FTX lawsuit alleges Bybit used “VIP” privileges to withdraw $953M before collapse

FTX and Alameda bankruptcy advisers made allegations of fraud against crypto exchange Bybit, its two corporate affiliates, and four senior executives, in a lawsuit filed on Nov. 10. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants used a “fraudulent scheme” to withdraw cash and assets from the FTX platform, right before it collapsed.

FTX is looking to recover $953.2 million that was fraudulently withdrawn by the defendants in the 90 days preceding the bankruptcy. The lawsuit named Mirana, Bybit’s investment arm, and Time Research, a crypto trading firm affiliated with Mirana, as the two corporate defendants besides Bybit.

Under Chapter 11, FTX has the right to recover funds paid out in the 90 days before the bankruptcy filing. The law is meant to stop certain creditors from a windfall just because they managed to get their money out where others failed.

Mirana allegedly used its VIP Status to prioritize withdrawals

As per the lawsuit, Mirana was an active trader on the FTX platform with an account balance of “several hundred million dollars.” Mirana’s trading activity and its affiliation with Bybit earned it “preferential treatment” compared to the average customer, the lawsuit notes.

Mirana was assigned the “VIP” status, giving it access to FTX Group employees and concierge support. When concerns about FTX’s financial health arose, Mirana used its privileges to prioritize its withdrawal requests as individual FTX customers struggled. The lawsuit states:

“Mirana leveraged its VIP connections to pressure FTX Group employees to fulfil its withdrawal requests as soon as assets became available, further reducing the funds available to meet withdrawal requests by FTX.com’s non-VIP customers.”

As a result of the pressure from Mirana, FTX employees “repeatedly changed” Mirana’s settings in FTX’s know-your-customer (KYC) system before withdrawals were frozen, the lawsuit notes.

Bybit allegedly used its control of FTX assets as leverage

After FTX halted customer withdrawals on Nov. 8, 2022, Bybit used FTX’s assets on the Bybit platform to force FTX to release Mirana’s account balance, the lawsuit alleges. It states:

“…Bybit seized FTX Group assets held on Bybit’s exchange, refusing to release them unless and until Mirana was able to finish withdrawing the entire balance of its FTX.com account.”

“Repeated unlawful efforts”

FTX bankruptcy advisers alleged that even after the Chapter 11 filing, Bybit and its affiliates “continued their unlawful efforts” to prioritize themselves over other FTX creditors. The lawsuit notes that the defendants “repeatedly violated the automatic global stay” on FTX properties.

Firstly, Bybit holds over $125 million of FTX’s assets hostage. Bybit has “insisted” that it will only allow FTX to withdraw the funds after it transfers around $20 million to Mirana, representing Mirana’s FTX balance when it collapsed.

Secondly, Mirana and Bybit have allegedly tried to restrict and devalue “tens of millions of dollars of cryptocurrency tokens” held by FTX.

The lawsuit against Bybit is the latest attempt by FTX’s new management to claw back funds paid out before the bankruptcy filing.

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