Former Alameda Research CEO John Samuel ‘Sam’ Trabucco resigned before the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX, yet no one seems to know where he is.
Trabucco made at least $25 million from FTX via Alameda Research before opting for a curiously-timed “early retirement” in mid-2022. This is according to founder Bankman-Fried. When Trabucco resigned from Alameda, Caroline Ellison took over as head of the trading firm.
Years later, the world would learn how under Trabucco’s, Ellison’s, and Bankman-Fried’s leadership, Alameda borrowed but never repaid billions of dollars from FTX customers.
Understandably, defrauded FTX customers find it hard to believe that Trabucco was somehow unaware or not responsible for actions that precipitated parts of the downfall of FTX and Alameda.
According to a jury verdict and a guilty plea, Bankman-Fried and Ellison are guilty of US financial crimes and have additional financial liabilities from ongoing civil litigation. Yet Trabucco hasn’t pleaded guilty to anything.
Fast-forward to today and the four top FTX executives are criminally guilty and embroiled in additional civil lawsuits. Yet Trabucco hasn’t been criminally charged by US authorities.
Now, defrauded FTX customers have launched a manhunt for Trabucco.
From sinking ship to luxury yacht
Among Trabucco’s many alleged misdeeds, was his spending $2.5 million of FTX customer funds on a yacht. He brazenly named the vessel Soak My Deck.
A court filing detailed further lavish expenditures. On March 11, 2022, Alameda transferred $2,513,000 to the American Yacht Group for Trabucco’s boat. It also made at least $15.5 million in cash payments to Trabucco to fund his extravagant indulgences.
All told, Trabucco made at least $25 million personally from working at Alameda before resigning from the doomed FTX group of companies.
Some posters to X (formerly Twitter) have guessed that Trabucco probably cut a deal with prosecutors to avoid facing criminal charges himself.
Many find it crazy that Tabucco hasn’t been personally named as a defendant in any public indictments against FTX or Alameda Research. Others speculate that there could be more going on behind the scenes than a simple deal with prosecutors.
Legal document appearances as a witness and co-conspirator
Although he’s so far avoided being publicly named as a personal, criminal defendant, his name does appear in a few legal filings.
Indeed, Trabucco appears in litigation documents as an alleged co-conspirator in a $100 million bribery case involving Chinese officials.
In addition, other court documents note that Trabucco has previously refused to answer questions about Alameda Research’s dealings with Tether, including which banks it used to wire money for USDT purchases. For context, Alameda Research was once one of Tether’s biggest customers and liquidity providers. The FTX exchange even briefly had USDT as its preferred stablecoin.
“Alameda is not going to disclose the banks it is using,” Trabucco told CoinDesk after pretending not to understand a question regarding whether FTX/Alameda used banks based in the US for transactions involving Tether.
Sam Trabucco even fooled Katy Perry
Oddly, the multi-platinum singer Katy Perry had a close relationship with Trabucco. There are photographs of her affectionately hugging him. In February 2022, just nine months prior to its bankruptcy, Perry published a picture on Instagram, writing warmly, “I’m quitting music and becoming an intern for FTX.”
Trabucco thought it best to step off the titanic FTX — once valued over $32 billion — and try to quietly sail off into the sunset on a smaller yacht. However, even if he’s managed to escape criminal charges, his mid-2022 departure doesn’t mean that crypto researchers on X and elsewhere will give up the hunt. Where in the world is Sam Trabucco?
Edit 13:00 UTC, Jan 19: Article corrected to show that Trabucco left Alameda in 2022, not 2021.