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FTX: Australian crypto exchange Digital Surge suspends withdrawals

Shockwaves following the collapse of multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency exchange FTX have reached Australian shores, with a local exchange freezing withdrawals. 

Brisbane-based firm Digital Surge said in an email to customers last week they were suspending all deposits and withdrawals because of some ‘limited’ exposure to the disgraced firm. 

‘Digital surge has always held a reserve of 1:1 for all user deposits, however, due to our exposure to FTX Trading Limited, the exact reserve position is now unknown,’ the business said.

The exchange said the pause was being put in place ‘as a precaution’ while working towards a solution and they were exploring all options ‘including a contingency plan in case we are unable to recover assets’. 

But Aussie investors who bought in during the height of the crypto craze are now growing increasingly ‘scared’ they could lose everything.

Self employed couple Sharon and Alan Saul, both in their 60s are staring down the prospect of losing $50,000 – about one quarter of their superannuation. 

Australian crypto exchange Digital Surge said it suspended withdrawals and deposits because it was ‘partially exposed’ to FTX before it collapsed

In a letter, first published by CoinDesk, former CEO of the imploded FTX crypto exchange Sam Bankman-Fried (pictured) wrote in part: 'I didn't mean for any of this to happen'

In a letter, first published by CoinDesk, former CEO of the imploded FTX crypto exchange Sam Bankman-Fried (pictured) wrote in part: ‘I didn’t mean for any of this to happen’

‘What happens now? What are we going to do with our money?’ Sharon told ABC News.

‘I am really worried about what’s going to happen next.’ 

Digital Surge stores part of their cryptocurrency holdings with other trading platforms – including FTX, whose collapse has resulted in those assets being inaccessible. 

The dollar amount Digital Surge has tied up with the failed exchange has not been revealed. 

‘We are reaching out to the US advisors for the FTX Group and will update customers as the situation continues to develop,’ it said.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Digital Surge for comment. 

Other firms have made similar announcements in the wake of the FTX saga, including Singapore based ByBit and London-based crypto market maker Wintermute.

FTX, founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 11 and the exchange is now under the control of an externally appointed CEO who blasted the company’s ‘complete failure of corporate controls’.

As many as 30,000 Australians had ‘significant’ funds invested with FTX which they can no longer access.

KordaMentha have been appointed administrators of FTX’s Australian business. 

The Albany Bahamas Resort community, the location of several FTX employees' homes, has been described as 'the ultimate in luxury waterfront living in the Caribbean' by listing agents

The Albany Bahamas Resort community, the location of several FTX employees’ homes, has been described as ‘the ultimate in luxury waterfront living in the Caribbean’ by listing agents

Australia’s financial watchdog ASIC recently warned Australians that the cryptocurrency market was ‘risky’.

‘Crypto exchange businesses are not regulated by ASIC and crypto assets are largely unregulated in Australia,’ it said.

‘ASIC is very concerned that Australians who invested in crypto may not have fully understood the risks and may have lost money in this year’s collapse in valuations.

‘ASIC has repeatedly warned investors that crypto is incredibly risky, inherently volatile and complex.’

In a letter sent Tuesday, and first published by CoinDesk, former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried wrote that he was ‘sorry.

‘I didn’t mean for any of this to happen, and I would give anything to be able to go back and do things over again. You were my family.’

His apology comes as the CEO faces a possible US Government investigation over allegations that he used FTX customer’s money to fund investment bets with Alameda Research, a sister company and trading firm run by his one-time girlfriend Caroline Ellison.

With 7,500 square feet, five bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms and a pool directly in front of the master suite, it is the jewel in one of the highly secure community's landmark buildings, The Orchid

 With 7,500 square feet, five bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms and a pool directly in front of the master suite, it is the jewel in one of the highly secure community’s landmark buildings, The Orchid

His team of 10 close friends ran a glorified frat house out of his $40 million home in the affluent Albany district in the Bahamas, alleges the New York Post. 

A local resident told the Post: ‘They would walk around in sweats and T-shirts. That was not the Albany lifestyle that residents there signed up for. The typical dress was Ralph Lauren sport jackets. Sam and his group did not seem to fit the part.’ 

The Post article details SBF and his staff pulling all-nighters while simultaneously partying and working.

Another source told the Post that during a crypto conference in the Bahamas in April: ‘[FTX Staff] were staying up all night and smelling like they hadn’t showered in weeks.’ 

Boutique bistro Cocoplum, just yards from FTX’s headquarters, told Fox News that Bankman-Fried spent $2,500 a day there on takeout deliveries, adding that he would spend an additional $7,500 a day elsewhere at other restaurants.

It is not known if SBF has been staying at the apartment full time since FTX filed for bankruptcy protection on November 11

It is not known if SBF has been staying at the apartment full time since FTX filed for bankruptcy protection on November 11

In his sorrowful letter, the 30-year-old entrepreneur said that the company’s demise was related to a missing $8 billion and argued that he was against filing for bankruptcy this month because he believed he could save FTX. 

He wrote: ‘We likely could have raised significant funding. Potential interest in billions of dollars of funding came in roughly eight minutes after I signed the chapter 11 docs.’

He says that he was pressured into filing for bankruptcy and that parts of FTX ‘were solvent.’

SBF wrote: ‘I reluctantly gave in to that pressure, even though I should have known better; I wish I had listened to those of you who saw and still see value in the platform, which was and is my belief as well.’

Since the collapse of FTX, SBF has repeatedly stated that he believes his company was not struggling in the manner the media depicted. 

FTX filed for bankruptcy on November 11, the same day that SBF stepped down as CEO, sending shockwaves through the cryptocurrency industry, which has seen an enormous amount of volatility this year, including a sharp decline in the price of bitcoin and other digital assets.

But the sheer size of FTX’s collapse highlights the massive market risks inherent in the growing crypto industry. Billions of dollars of wealth may have been destroyed in a few days. 

The circumstances have prompted investigations by the US Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission. 

SBF was recently estimated to be worth $23 billion and has been a prominent political donor to Democrats. His net worth has all but evaporated, according to Forbes and Bloomberg, which closely track the net worth of the world’s richest people. 

WHAT OTHER CRYPTO FIRMS HAVE SAID ABOUT FTX

Here are some firms that have given information about their exposure to FTX.

BLOCKFI

BlockFi filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 28, weeks after the crypto lender said it was pausing client withdrawals. In July, FTX had signed a deal with an option to buy BlockFi for up to $240 million.

GENESIS

The crypto lending arm of U.S. digital asset broker Genesis Trading suspended customer redemptions earlier this month, citing the sudden failure of FTX.

Genesis said in a tweet on Nov. 10 that its derivatives business has approximately $175 million in locked funds on FTX.

However, Genesis had no material exposure to FTX’s native token FTT, or any other tokens issued by centralized exchanges, the firm said in a tweet on Nov. 9.

BINANCE

Binance Chief Executive Changpeng Zhao sparked concerns among investors on Nov. 6 when he said in a tweet that the crypto exchange would sell its holdings of FTT.

Zhao told a Twitter spaces event that Binance had previously held $580 million worth of FTT, of which ‘we only sold quite a small portion, we still hold a large bag.’

CELSIUS NETWORK

Bankrupt crypto lender Celsius Network said in a tweet on Nov. 11 that it had 3.5 million Serum tokens (SRM) on FTX as well as around $13 million in loans to FTX-linked trading company Alameda Research. The loans were under-collateralised, mostly by FTT tokens, Celsius said.

COINBASE

Coinbase Global Inc said in a blog post on Nov. 8 that it had $15 million worth of deposits on FTX. It said it had no exposure to FTT or Alameda Research and no loans to FTX.

COINSHARES

Crypto asset manager CoinShares has $30.3 million worth of exposure to crypto exchange FTX, it said in a statement on Nov. 10.

CoinShares CEO Jean-Marie Mognetti said the group’s financial health remains ‘strong.’

CRYPTO.COM

Singapore-based crypto exchange Crypto.com said on Nov. 14 it had moved about $1 billion to FTX over the course of a year, but most of it was recovered and exposure at the time of FTX’s collapse was less than $10 million.

CEO Kris Marszalek said the firm would prove wrong all naysayers who thought the platform was in trouble, adding it had a robust balance sheet and took no risks.

GALAXY DIGITAL

Crypto financial services company Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd said in its third-quarter earnings statement on Nov. 9 – the day after FTX froze withdrawals – that it had $76.8 million worth of exposure to FTX, of which $47.5 million was ‘in the withdrawal process.’

GALOIS CAPITAL

Hedge fund Galois Capital had half its assets trapped on FTX, co-founder Kevin Zhou told investors in a recent letter, the Financial Times reported, estimating the amount to be around $100 million.

Galois did not respond to requests for comment by Reuters.

KRAKEN

Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken said on Nov. 10 that it held about 9,000 FTT tokens on the FTX exchange and was not affected ‘in any material way.’

SILVERGATE CAPITAL CORP

Silvergate Capital Corp said on Nov. 11 FTX represented less than 10% of $11.9 billion in deposits from all digital asset customers as of Sept. 30.

The financial solutions provider to digital assets also said Silvergate has no outstanding loans or investments in FTX, and that FTX is not a custodian for Silvergate´s bitcoin-collateralized Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN) leverage loans.

VOYAGER DIGITAL

Bankrupt crypto lender Voyager Digital, which was set to sell its assets to FTX after a $1.42 billion deal bid by the exchange in September, had a balance of approximately $3 million at FTX.

It also reopened the bidding earlier this month.

GRAYSCALE

Crypto asset manager Grayscale, whose flagship Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) is the world’s largest bitcoin fund, told investors that the recent market events have had no impact on its product operations or the security of the holdings in its funds.

Source: Reuters. 

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