Caroline Ellison — the 28-year-old CEO of doomed crypto firm Alameda Research — is facing scrutiny not only over the firm’s multibillion-dollar meltdown, but also over rumors that she’s the ex-girlfriend of disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
Ellison and Bankman-Fried were part of “cabal of roommates” based in a “luxury penthouse” in the Bahamas that were behind the machinations at FTX and Alameda, according to a bombshell report by CoinDesk. Alameda was one of about 130 FTX Group affiliates included in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last week.
The housemates are reportedly Bankman-Fried’s former college classmates at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former coworkers at the quantitative trading firm Jane Street.
Relationships between the group of 10 insiders weren’t strictly business – members of the inner circle “are, or used to be, paired up in romantic relationships with each other,” the report said.
Ellison and Bankman-Fried have occasionally dated while running the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency empire – the value of which went from an estimated $32 billion at its peak to effectively zero following a rapid decline.
“The whole operation was run by a gang of kids in the Bahamas,” a person familiar with the matter told CoinDesk.
“They’ll do anything for each other,” another source told the outlet.
A Boston native, Ellison graduated from Stanford University and worked as a trader at Jane Street before getting involved with FTX and Alameda.
With the firm’s meltdown underway, social media users poured over her old interviews — including a now-viral podcast appearance from July 2020, where Ellison described her childhood obsession with Harry Potter books and her affinity for LARPing — where participants dress up as and portray fictional characters.
“i was pretty obsessed with Harry Potter as a kid,” Ellison said. “I started, I was 3 when the first book came out, my parents read it aloud to me, and when I was 5, the second book came out, I refused to wait for my parents to read it, so I read it myself.”
Ellison hasn’t tweeted since Nov. 9 and has yet to address the bankruptcy.
Current and former employees at FTX and Alameda told CoinDesk that Bankman-Fried and his circle of friends effectively ran wild, with little oversight and major conflicts of interest that sparked alarm among workers.
Aside from Ellison and Bankman-Fried, other “roommates” in the Bahamas included FTX co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Gary Wang and FTX Director of Engineering Nishad Singh.
The workers also said they were told little about what was happening at the top levels of the cryptocurrency firms as they spiraled toward bankruptcy.
“Gary, Nishad and Sam control the code, the exchange’s matching engine and funds,” one of CoinDesk’s sources said. “If they moved them around or input their own numbers, I’m not sure who would notice.”
Ellison and Bankman-Fried did not respond to CoinDesk’s request for comment.
The Post has reached out to FTX for comment. Alameda Research’s website appears to be offline.
Alameda had deep links to FTX’s collapse – which accelerated after CoinDesk reported the cryptocurrency hedge fund was heavily invested in FTT, a token issued by FTX.
Somewhere between $1 billion and $2 billion in client funds has disappeared since FTX’s collapse, according to Reuters. Bankman-Fried is alleged to have “secretly transferred $10 billion of customer funds” from FTX to Alameda – money that was used to fund the firm’s risky trades.
Bankman-Fried told Reuters he “disagreed with the characterization” of the $10 billion in transferred funds.
“We didn’t secretly transfer,” Bankman-Fried said. “We had confusing internal labeling and misread it.”
Earlier this week, Bankman-Fried had put his penthouse in the Bahamas’ exclusive Albany resort up for sale for nearly $40 million.
But insiders say all of the FTX top brass had homes in the residence — it’s unclear just how many properties will be listed in the coming days.
The Albany Club — the most exclusive resort community in the Bahamas which boasts members including Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake — has also gotten stuck in the crosshairs.
The neighborhood was intended to cater to “a new breed of global elite,” according to comments made Albany partner Jason Callender several years ago.
But over the weekend, Albany Club General Manager Damien Michelmore sent residents an email with the update that fellow member Sam Bankman-Fried’s company “FTX filed for bankruptcy” and instructed residents not to speak to the press.
“Out of respect we offer to all homeowners and members, we have instructed our employees to not speak to the press, and we respectfully ask fellow members and homeowners to also not provide any comments at this time,” Michelmore added.