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FTX Seeks Answers on Sam Bankman-Fried’s Payment to AI Nonprofit

FTX wants answers about $6.5 million its founder gave to an artificial intelligence (AI) nonprofit.

The bankrupt cryptocurrency firm’s new management said in a Wednesday (Oct. 25) court filing that it is seeking information about money given to the Center for AI Safety (CAIS).

The money was sent to CAIS between May and September of last year, the time when FTX was being run by founder and ex-CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, who now stands accused of orchestrating a multibillion-dollar fraud.

FTX’s new CEO, John J. Ray III, wants CAIS to turn over documents and information about payments it had received from FTX and other relevant information.

“CAIS has rejected the Debtors’ requests to voluntarily provide an accounting related to the transfers,” the filing said. “A phone call between the parties on Aug. 22, 2023, as well as email exchanges between Oct. 2 and 6, 2023, failed to resolve this impasse.”

The filing said FTX sent a “formal request” to CAIS Oct. 10 to arrange further discussions, but the center did not reply.

PYMNTS has contacted CAIS for comment but has not yet gotten a response.

FTX has been trying to recoup millions of dollars given by Bankman-Fried to politicians, nonprofits and celebrity endorsers under Bankman-Fried’s leadership.

The one-time crypto wunderkind was a believer in the concept of effective altruism, a philosophy centered around charitable giving. (Prosecutors allege that it was customer funds that Bankman-Fried was actually giving.)

Among the nonprofits was CAIS, which — per its website — works to “equip policymakers, business leaders, and the broader world with the understanding and tools necessary” to manage the risks of AI.

Those risks are severe, the organization argues. In May, it published an open letter — signed by several AI executives — calling for greater regulation of the technology.

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” the letter read.

FTX’s bankruptcy court battle is happening in tandem with Bankman-Fried’s fight to stay out of prison. His attorney said Wednesday that Bankman-Fried will testify in his own defense.

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