Sam Bankman-Fried’s globe-spanning empire of rapidly moving money and crypto has been under the microscope of prosecutors, and among the evidence considered was the testimony of former Alameda Research ‘chief executive officer’ Caroline Ellison.
During her testimony, Ellison detailed an attempt to un-freeze funds at Huobi (now HTX) and OKEx (now OKX) via accounts opened using identity documents from “Thai prostitutes.” This scheme was ultimately unsuccessful.
However, Bankman-Fried’s financial empire had other links to Thailand, through the Hong Kong-headquartered over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk Genesis Block.
Genesis Block is principally remembered in the Bankman-Fried empire as the crypto shop where purchasers queued around the street with bags full of cash they wanted to convert to crypto. The desk has been described as being “integrated” into FTX or Alameda Research, with Genesis Block’s website acknowledging that “Alameda Research will also provide the technology that acts as the backbone for Genesis Block’s new OTC portal.”
One of the founders of this desk, Clement Ip, was a director of FTX’s Hong Kong entity.
The FTX bankruptcy has also revealed a ‘Digital Assets Accounts Control Agreement Dated 11/3/2020’ and a ‘Loan Agreement Dated 12/10/2021’ between Genesis Block Limited and an FTX Group company.
One of the lesser discussed details about Genesis Block is the existence of its activities in Thailand, but it was in no way a secret and was mentioned explicitly on the company’s website.
Attendees at the Block Mountain conference in Thailand may even have been clued into the relationship if they visited the Thank You Party hosted by Genesis Block Thailand and FTX.
It’s a little difficult to determine the full activities beyond sponsoring events in Thailand, as the website for this office appears to have just been a poorly implemented copy of the main Hong Kong website, though LinkedIn pages suggest the focus was more explicitly on “educational talks and meetups” than the main Hong Kong-based office.
One clue might exist in details shared by a Genesis Block partner who once described how Genesis Block maintained a network of dozens of ‘satellite’ bank accounts that it used to help it move funds. Even Genesis Block partner and head trader Charles Yang admitted that this is “a very grey area.”
Yang’s connections to other industries have always been valuable for Genesis Block, with his bio on the firm’s website describing him as “a Hong Kong-bred Korean,” and saying “Charles leveraged his multicultural background as he built his network with Korean corporations and institutions.”
Coincidentally, FTX allegedly relied on an account associated with a ‘Charles’ for its crimes, with the [email protected] account being described in the testimony as the infamous ‘Korean friend’ account. Contributing to the fascinating relationship here is the fact that Yang was described at various events as an Alameda Research ‘principal.’
It’s not clear to what extent FTX and Alameda Research relied on the network of bank accounts that their Korean friend was describing, or to what extent Genesis Block Thailand was used to maintain that network of accounts.
Perhaps Genesis Block Founder Wincent Hung, the director of various entities including China Genesis Block Limited, Genesis Block Limited, and Genesis Block OTC Limited provides a clue to the nature of the relationship. His bio advertises his “strong relationships with Chinese OTC traders.”
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