The US government is in the middle of seizing around $460 million-worth of Robinhood Markets (Nasdaq: HOOD) shares as part of the fraud prosecution against collapsed crypto exchange FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, lawyers said in court Wednesday.
According to James Bromley, a lawyer managing the primary FTX insolvency case in the US, the government is also seizing assets in bank accounts that were part of a bankruptcy case involving one subsidiary of the FTX empire in the Bahamas.
FTX’s creditors have claimed the shares and started court cases to get possession of them. A court hearing will be scheduled later to determine what will happen to the shares and assets seized from the bank accounts.
According to a December 22 court document, Bankman-Fried, FTX’s new executives, bankrupt crypto lender BlockFi, and FTX creditor Yonatan Ben Shimon have all made claim to the Robinhood shares.
However, attorney Seth Shapiro told US Judge John Dorsey that the four-way fight for ownership of the shares is now likely to be determined by forfeiture – a different legal process that attempts to prevent criminals from financially profiting from their crimes – rather than bankruptcy proceedings.
Bankman-Fried reported a 7.6% investment in Robinhood in May, paying $648 million for 56.3 million shares in the trading platform via an Antigua-based holding company named Emergent Fidelity Technologies.
Emergent Fidelity was not one of the 134 corporations listed as part of the bankruptcy filing made by the FTX Group – meaning that the shares themselves are still held by Bankman-Fried via beneficial ownership, and not by FTX.
The investment by Bankman-Fried at the time lead to several rumors of a potential acquisition of Robinhood by FTX, although the latter indicated then that they were never in active talks to acquire Robinhood.
Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev has stated that he expected Emergent’s interest in his company to be locked up in legal proceedings for an extended period of time.
“I’m not surprised that it’s one of the more valuable assets they have on their balance sheet, because it is public company’s stock,” Tenev said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last month.
With a “liquid” valuation of $472.3 million on FTX’s balance sheet, Robinhood represents 52.4% of all assets within the category – and roughly 4.9% of the firms collective assets, as of last filing.
In a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to eight wire fraud and conspiracy allegations presented by US authorities. Prosecutors claimed he committed a “fraud of epic proportions” by funneling money from FTX customers to the exchange’s sibling trading firm, Alameda Research.
Robinhood last traded at $8.05 on the Nasdaq.
Information for this briefing was found via Bloomberg, Business Insider, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.