BlockFi CEO Zac Prince testifies to lending relationship with Alameda Research before its collapse

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BlockFi CEO Zac Prince testifies to lending relationship with Alameda Research before its collapse BlockFi CEO Zac Prince testifies to lending relationship with Alameda Research before its collapse Mike Dalton · 4 hours ago · 3 min read

Zac Prince said that Alameda should have been insolvent given the circumstances, but BlockFi was unaware of the true state of its finances.

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Updated: October 14, 2023 at 12:12 am

BlockFi CEO Zac Prince testifies to lending relationship with Alameda Research before its collapse

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate

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Zac Prince, the CEO of BlockFi, continued to provide testimony in the criminal trial of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried on Oct. 13.

In the previous day’s testimony, Prince described his firm’s lending relationship with Alameda Research. In current testimony, he described how Alameda began to dominate BlockFi lending activities and noted that he spoke to FTX and Alameda as loans grew larger.

Prosecutors: “Did you talk with Sam Bankman-Fried?”

Prince: “Yes, a CEO to CEO was suggested. So we did a call.”

Prince said that BlockFi had at one point lent out $5 billion to $10 billion to its clients overall. Alameda Research had initially borrowed $10 million circa early 2021, but that amount eventually rose to $50 million in May 2021 and to $1.1 billion in May 2022.

The BlockFi executive noted that his firm was also affected by other industry events, including the collapse of Luna and TerraUSD (which was followed by Three Arrows Capital’s default on its loan to BlockFi) as well as the bankruptcy of Celsius and Voyager.

Prince said that BlockFi, at one point, attempted to have FTX acquire it, as reported in mid-2022. Though the acquisition never occurred, Prince admitted that the arrangement with FTX influenced BlockFi’s decision to lend money to Alameda as a “data point.” He did not admit that BlockFi loaned to Alameda wholly because of that arrangement.

BlockFi was unaware of FTX’s wrongdoing

Prosecutors then presented Prince with Alameda’s Q2 2022 balance sheet. Though Prince was familiar with it, he said that he was told the loans detailed on the sheet were from other crypto lenders, as opposed to loans between FTX and Alameda.

Prince said that if he had known of FTX’s multibillion-dollar loans to Alameda, BlockFi would not have lent money to Alameda as it “would have been insolvent.” He added that if he had known that Alameda was using money that belonged to FTX customers, BlockFi would not have lent money as that practice is “not appropriate.”

Furthermore, Prince said that if he had known of Alameda’s loans to Sam Bankman-Fried, BlockFi would have been “concerned.” Early bankruptcy reports suggest that Bankman-Fried personally borrowed at least $1 billion from Alameda.

Prince also testified that when the price of FTX’s FTT token fell around the time of the companies’ collapses, BlockFi attempted to call certain loans.

Prince said that, at the time of the collapse, $650 million of loaned funds were still outstanding and said that BlockFi had $350 million on FTX, leaving $1.1 billion affected. He testified that Alameda and FTX led to BlockFi’s own bankruptcy.

Cross-examination addresses finer points

During cross-examination, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer seemingly attempted to draw attention to the fact that both BlockFi and FTX lent out customer assets. Prince emphasized that BlockFi lent customer funds “if they agreed to.”

Also during that period, Cohen asked Prince whether BlockFi’s team had advised against increasing exposure to FTT tokens. Prince replied that the entire team had not advised this and said that BlockFi had made more loans when it required more collateral.

Earlier, Prince had noted BlockFi had received Grayscale Trust and Robinhood shares as collateral. Cohen asked whether Prince was aware of who owned those Robinhood shares. Prince replied that he “wasn’t aware of the nuances.” Robinhood recently purchased those shares from the U.S. government after they were seized from Bankman-Fried. In late 2022, BlockFi had attempted to lay claim to the shares itself.

Finally, Cohen asked whether Prince was ever concerned about whether BlockFi might go bankrupt. Prince answered that a CEO “must think of possibilities.”

Cohen’s cross-examination concluded at that point. The trial will continue next week, with FTX associates Nishad Singh and Ramnik Arora providing testimony.

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