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FTX customers may get their money back, but not gains from crypto price increases

Some customers of the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX could receive the full value of the money they lost if a court approves the company’s bankruptcy plan.

However, they will not see the gains on their holdings of bitcoin and other digital assets that have occurred over the past two years, despite massive increases in the value of those financial instruments since the FTX exchange collapsed in November 2022.

According to a news release filed Tuesday by FTX, which is going through reorganization, 98% of FTX creditors, including individual investors, who had $50,000 or less with the company will receive the funds they lost, in cash, within 60 days of a reorganization plan going into effect. The plan must still be approved by a court and by creditors.

“We are pleased to be in a position to propose a chapter 11 plan that contemplates the return of 100% of bankruptcy claim amounts plus interest for non-governmental creditors,’ said John J. Ray III, who took over as chief executive officer of FTX alongside his role as chief restructuring officer.

That plan is possible mostly because FTX and its sister company, Alameda Research, held a number of other assets that the reorganization team has sold off. These included shares in Anthropic, the Amazon-backed artificial intelligence startup now valued at nearly $20 billion. FTX said it had sold shares in the company worth $900 million this year.

But some claimants have objected to their crypto assets being valued at November 2022 prices as part of the bankruptcy. Since that date, the price of bitcoin has climbed more than 250%.

In February, the Justice Department appointed an independent examiner, Robert Cleary, to review potential issues with parties involved in the bankruptcy, including past investigations into the FTX debtors and potential conflicts of interest in the FTX bankruptcy involving FTX’s law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell.

A spokesperson for the firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Adam Moskowitz, a lawyer representing some of the FTX bankruptcy claimants, said that even with the unusually generous returns to the claimants outlined by the company, outstanding questions about the bankruptcy process remain.

‘We have serious concerns,’ Moskowitz said.

The Sullivan and Cromwell law firm has denied any wrongdoing.

FTX acknowledged that some claimants might find the value of what’s coming back to them through the bankruptcy to be insufficient.

But at the time of its collapse, the release said, FTX held ‘only 0.1% of the Bitcoin and only 1.2% of the Ethereum customers believed it held.’

Because of that, FTX — referred to as a debtor in the bankruptcy case — has ‘not been able to benefit from the appreciation of these missing tokens during the chapter 11 cases,’ the news release said.

‘Instead, the debtors have had to look to other sources of recoverable value to repay creditors.’

In March, former FTX chief Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison for masterminding the fraud that led to the exchange’s collapse.

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