‘I liked him; I trusted him’: Anthony Scaramucci describes being taken in by Sam Bankman-Fried

During an Oct. 13 CNBC interview, Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of SkyBridge Capital, detailed his perspectives on Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX and a former business associate who now stands trial for fraud.

Scaramucci provided insight into his early take on Bankman-Fried, which inspired trust and confidence over time. Immediately struck by his eccentricities and perceived intelligence, Scaramucci said he soon became persuaded by Bankman-Fried’s projected altruism, as well.

Scaramucci described his early impression of Bankman-Fried as the “Mark Zuckerberg of crypto.” He admired the vision of establishing a 21st-century financial exchange, beginning with cryptocurrency but eventually branching out into other assets. As he recalls, “[Bankman-Fried] was nerdy, very smart…I saw somebody that had a vision for a next-generation exchange.”

Bankman-Fried’s projected image of humility and purposefulness further bolstered Scaramucci’s trust. Scaramucci noted that Bankman-Fried was “less affected by material wealth” and “struck [him] as somebody that was really trying to do something transformative.” This projection resonated with Scaramucci’s entrepreneurial spirit, leading him to sell a piece of his business to Bankman-Fried. The SkyBridge Capital founder also made high-profile introductions for Bankman-Fried, even introducing him to senior figures in the Middle East and engaging with their families. “The more time I spent with Sam, the smarter I felt he was,” he added before turning to the depth of his disillusionment later.

Scaramucci also recalled traveling to the Bahamas to meet with Bankman-Fried just before FTX collapsed. It was during this period that Scaramucci began to realize the magnitude of the trouble, describing Bankman-Fried’s behavior as “dissociative.”

Just days later, on Nov. 11, 2022, Scaramucci appeared on CNBC to say that SkyBridge Capital would attempt to buy back its equity stake acquired by FTX, but doing so will now require going through the company’s formal bankruptcy process. In the same interview, Scaramucci admitted to liking and trusting both Bankman-Fried and FTX while apologizing to investors for the error in judgment. However, he was far from the only one who fell for it.

Sam Bankman-Fried is currently on trial for fraud in the Southern District of New York. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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