ProPublica Returning FTX Grant

ProPublica announced it would return the $1.6 million it has received to date from a $5 million grant from a foundation managed by bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX’s former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried. ProPublica is a nonprofit investigative media outlet that was just one of several media organizations that have taken FTX cash.

Bankman-Fried’s foundation, Building a Stronger Future, awarded the grant to ProPublica in February. It was designated to create an international news desk to report on COVID-19 and prepare for possible future outbreaks. ProPublica said it intends to go forward with the COVID-19 project using other resources.

This week’s reports indicate that several other independent news outlets have received grant money from Building a Stronger Future or Bankman-Fried, including The Intercept, Vox, and Semafor.

Semafor CEO Justin Smith responded to the collapse of FTX by saying it would allow investigators and government officials to “decide how to best handle” the donations from Bankman-Fried. Smith also said that Bankman-Fried “has no influence over our editorial coverage or operations.”

Reports broke on Wednesday afternoon that Bankman-Fried’s attorneys are negotiating with federal prosecutors in New York to reach an agreement in which the former crypto billionaire will not contest extradition to the U.S. from the Bahamas and will be granted release on bail pending his trial in Manhattan.

Bankman-Fried’s attorney in the Bahamas appeared on his behalf there on Wednesday morning and told the judge that his client had agreed to extradition. A haggard-looking Bankman-Fried was present and told the court that he in fact had agreed to be returned to the United States for prosecution.

He told the judge that his occupation was “entrepreneur and executive” and that his address is “a little unclear right now.”

As part of the agreement with prosecutors who have charged Bankman-Fried in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, it was believed he could be flown to New York in the custody of U.S. Marshals as soon as Wednesday evening. It appeared that the only contingency was obtaining the formal consent of the Bahamian Foreign Minister, which was expected to be granted quickly.

The next step would be an appearance in the Manhattan federal court for a bail hearing.

The bankruptcy court overseeing the winding up of FTX is expected to take a substantial amount of time to locate all available assets of the company and Bankman-Fried in order to satisfy the claims of their creditors.