HiveEx, an Australian over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk, was purchased by Alameda Research in 2020 and subsequently used to accept deposits for FTX.
What was HiveEx?
HiveEx was an OTC desk in Australia started in early 2018 by Fred Schebesta and Frank Restuccia. The duo started Finder, a financial services comparison website, before deciding to enter the OTC business.
From the get-go, Schebesta had a broader vision than just OTC trading. He first launched a payments processing service for crypto called Hive Spend, and then purchased a stake in Australian bank Goldfields Money before announcing his intention to launch Australia’s first cryptocurrency bank.
Shortly after this, HiveEx began advertising its ability to help bank ICOs thanks to its partnership with Goldfields Money. Providing banking became an important service for HiveEx during this period, even including an executive in charge of ‘Bank Account Brokering’ on its team page.
Alameda Research buys HiveEx
In August 2020, Alameda Research purchased HiveEx for AU$300,000 (just over $200,000).
In September 2020, FTX announced that it had partnered with HiveEx so that FTX people could deposit AUD as a domestic transfer. Notably, while the tweet is from FTX, the text on the image says: “Now allowing domestic AUD transfers straight to Alameda’s OTC desk!”
Eventually, in December 2021, it would be transferred to FTX trading for $100, coincidentally the same amount it declared as having on hand when it filed its declaration of solvency with corporate regulators on October 4.
FTX stops using HiveEx
In May 2022, u/back-off-warchild posted to the FTX Official subreddit to ask if anyone else’s PayID had changed for bank deposits. The original one they cited was [email protected], but it had changed to [email protected]. They eventually returned to the thread to let everyone know that the change was legitimate. It seems that the partnership with HiveEx to enable FTX users to deposit was no longer functioning.
Meanwhile, Goldfields Money the bank that HiveEx had originally announced its partnership with, has reportedly notified bitcoin businesses that their accounts would be closed effective November 18.
Protos has reached out to Goldfields Money to determine its exposure to FTX and Alameda, and to confirm previous reporting on these debankings. We’ll update this piece if we hear back.
After Schebesta had purchased his stake in Goldfield’s money, it first merged with Australian business lending provider Finsure to form BNK Banking Corporation and was later sold off Finsure. The Goldfields Money brand is still active and indicated as one of FTX’s banking partners in the ongoing bankruptcy.
What’s it mean?
Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) used a variety of entities across his cryptocurrency cabal to maintain access to banking in different jurisdictions. It’s been previously admitted by SBF that FTX relied on Alameda accounts, but it seems it was also willing to purchase other OTC desks to facilitate continued access to banking for FTX customers.