Craig Murray: FTX & the Joke of US Democracy

From its founding in 2017, the one-man company rose to a “partner organisation” of the WEF and second largest donor to Biden and the Democrats’ mid-term election. It has now gone bust.

Sam Bankman-Fried during the Bitcoin 2021 conference. (Cointelegraph, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The State Belongs to its Citizens,
Not the Citizens to the State

By Craig Murray

NOTE: This is is what I think of as a signpost article — it points you to something the mainstream media is deliberately not giving the prominence it needs, but I have no personal expertise or inside knowledge to give you. I am just giving you a start to get going. Several readers will have a much better understanding than I, and I encourage you to give your thoughts in comments below.

The FTX story seems truly remarkable. From being founded only in 2017 it rose to be a “partner organisation” of the World Economic Forum and the second largest donor to U.S. President Joe Biden and the Democrats’ mid-term election campaign. It has now gone completely bust, taking every penny of its depositors’ money with it.

That is some trajectory.

The World Economic Forum has deleted its FTX page, but the Wayback machine has it:

I suppose it is inevitable that dodgy chancers would create derivatives markets for gambling on crypto, but I confess I had not given the matter much thought. It goes without saying that in those five years the founder of FTX had managed to take a huge personal fortune out of the company before it went bust.

FTX was a one-man company belonging to Sam Bankman-Fried. The board consisted of him, an employee and the company lawyer. Over $20 billion of investors’ funds from FTX were funneled to a fund management company, Alameda Research, also owned by Sam Bankman-Fried.

Bankman-Fried donated $37 million to the Democrats for the 2022 elections. Every penny of that originated with duped FTX investors. That is in addition to the $5 million given to the Biden 2020 campaign. FTX, of course, crashed instantly after those mid-term elections, which is interesting timing.

The BBC and The Guardian were constantly bombarding us with the term “democracy denier” in their coverage of the U.S. elections, strangely not in reference to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s ludicrous claims that Russian interference was the cause of her loss in 2016.

I view as a joke any notion that the U.S. is a democracy. Democracy is about giving citizens a choice of political direction. The 2022 elections saw a simply incredible expenditure on campaigning of $ 9.7 billion. Yes, nearly $10 billion. This is not democracy. It is a huge exercise in corporate control from which the ordinary citizen is frozen out.

Despite an aggressive tribalism which has stalemated the political system for decades, the difference in policy platform between Democrats and Republicans is highly marginal, with no alternative on offer to rampant and uninhibited commercial exploitation of the population by the super-wealthy.

The Democrats are marginally more keen on attacking other countries; the Republicans are marginally more against measures to curb carbon emissions. Vaunted differences on immigration and welfare turn out to be very small indeed, with very little changing when the White House does.

American elections are simply about the super-rich funneling in vast donations, expecting to benefit when their team gets its nose in the trough, or often donating to both sides to benefit either way.

I am not sure what the connection to democracy is supposed to be.

One simple fact illustrates the true nature of the bribery fest. By far the majority of the funds channeled through Political Action Committees, or PACs, are given to incumbents who face no serious threat to re-election anyway.

The PACs are interested in bribing those in power, not changing those in power. They are simply lobby groups with an opportunity for legal bribery. To illustrate that, the largest donating PACs are:

National Association of Realtors
National Beer Wholesalers Association
American Israel Public Affairs Committee
Credit Union National Association
Blue Cross/Blue Shield
American Crystal Sugar

It is worth noting that Bankman-Fried donated 10 times as much as the largest PAC donation. This brought access — he and his brother had meetings inside the White House on March 7, April 22 and May 12.

It is perhaps unsurprising therefore that FTX was involved in Ukraine, offering to exchange cryptocurrency for fiat and send it to Ukraine in an official partnership with the Ukrainian government. This from their press release

“Aid For Ukraine is cooperating with the cryptocurrency exchange FTX which converts crypto funds received into fiat and sends the donations to the National Bank of Ukraine. This marks the first-ever instance of a cryptocurrency exchange directly cooperating with a public financial entity to provide a conduit for crypto donations. Earlier this month, FTX already converted $1 million worth of SOL and transferred it to the National Bank of Ukraine.”

National Bank of Ukraine in Kiev, 2013. (A1, CC0, Wikimedia Commons)

The collapse of the Bankman Fried scam was allegedly caused by hackers stealing what should have been a comparatively small portion of the assets of FTX, had they not been hived off elsewhere. Doubtless we will shortly hear from state salaried conspiracy theorists that this was Russia/Guccifer/an ISP address traced by Bellingcat to inside the Kremlin.

What we really have here is an Allen Stanford for 2022, with added political connections.

We would do well to heed the advice of crypto developer Nikolai Mushegian, who had as his Twitter profile: “Larpers who self-style as CEOs or CTOs or VCs are a bigger problem than the establishment. They can’t build anything and will sell you out in 2 seconds.”

His final tweet was posted on Oct. 28:

The next day he drowned in the sea off a beach in Puerto Rico, where he lived. He was fully clothed including a jacket. The police are not treating it as homicide so presumably their theory is suicide by wading out to sea.

States of course have a massive incentive to destroy non-fiat currencies, or convert them into a new category of regulation. I am interested in the current discussion on smart state digital currencies where the state can track, control and block any transaction and know in real time exactly where each citizen or entity is spending or keeping every penny.

It occurs to me this is the wrong way round. The state belongs to its citizens, not the citizens to the state. We should be able to track online every single penny of public money in real time and see how it is spent. Imagine being able to follow every penny of the billions the Tories spent on fraudulent PPE contracts, for example.

The only people whose personal currency should be able to be tracked are those who hold, or have held, positions of power in the state. Their wealth and dealings should be available in great detail to public view. As for the rest of us, our money is ours and we are entitled to privacy.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. His coverage is entirely dependent on reader support. Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

27 comments for “Craig Murray: FTX & the Joke of US Democracy

  1. November 17, 2022 at 20:59

    FTX necessitated a distraction. Especially with Republicans now controlling the House. The Ukrainian’s S300 missile strike on Poland, was a Gift from God as explained over at News Forensics

  2. Foxton
    November 17, 2022 at 15:43

    Craig, I was interested in your view about financial tracking and transparency being applied to those in government as opposed to the government working so hard to turn it on us. It was only a few days ago that I was thinking of all the tracking and spying done by our governments through their various agencies and I thought that the spying on every detail of a persons life could actually be a good idea. It’s just that they have the wrong targets. I had decided that what we as electors really need is to ensure that once someone is elected to represent us, we need to see, in real time and posted to the internet, every single thing that these elected officials and their agents do on our behalf. I believe that if somehow that could be enacted we would see some significantly different positions taken by those in power.

  3. Taras77
    November 17, 2022 at 12:05

    The police are not treating it as homicide so presumably their theory is suicide by wading out to sea.

    This is indeed an usual approach by the suiciders!

  4. lester
    November 16, 2022 at 22:51

    Where has Bankman-Fried hidden his hard currency? Switzerland? Elsewhere?

  5. lester
    November 16, 2022 at 22:36

    Cryptocurrency is the South Sea Bubble or Tulipmania of our time.

  6. Scott
    November 16, 2022 at 20:09

    Don’t worry, CoproCurrency is right around the bend.

    It will save us all.

  7. JonnyJames
    November 16, 2022 at 18:31

    Crypto is a giant Ponzi racket, that much should be clear by now. The Crypto crowd throw around the “fiat currency” but Crypto is a fiat currency, despite being “mined”. Apparently it’s good for drug dealers and international criminals.

    All modern currency is debt. US Dollar Hegemony is the imperial currency. For more on this see Prof. Michael Hudson’s many books, Ellen Brown, Prof. Randall Wray, Warren Mosler etc. Modern Monetary Theory is one way to think about it.

    Craig is correct of course, as Jimmy Carter told us after the Citizens United case” The US is an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery”

    Sheldon Wolin’s classic Democracy Inc. (Chris Hedges often refers to this one)

  8. John Giles
    November 16, 2022 at 16:09

    The irony of crypto nuts yelling that state currency is a Ponzi scheme always amused me.

    Gold bugs and “end the Fed” types are amongst the most deluded people around.

    Money is credit. Crypto is gambling.

  9. Joe Dragnet
    November 16, 2022 at 12:27

    fiat money = US Dollar and others.

    Fiat Money is money that has no real backing. Ie, the US dollar used to be backed by the gold in the vaults at Fort Knox. You could convert a dollar bill into the listed amount of gold. Now, it is backed by “the good faith and credit of the United States”.

    I don’t know how much good faith the Empire of Lies has these days, and the credit of a nation that is $30 trillion in debt has to be at least questioned a little bit. The US dollar might only be backed by hot air. Thus, the dangers of fiat money. Its only worth what someone will give you for it. Which is ok, until it gets to the point where people have to use wheel barrows to take money to the store, but can walk out with their goods tucked under their arm.

    Interestingly, the thing that kept the USD afloat was its role as the world’s reserve currency. It was the currency for trade, thus everyone needed it. Now, it is Joe Biden and the Democrats, and America in general, which is destroying this by weaponizing the USD and conducting an economic war with the currency. This is forcing the rest of the world to move away from the dollar. Might want to buy that wheelbarrow while the USD is still worth something.

  10. Joe Dragnet
    November 16, 2022 at 12:13


    This was always a useful site. But it was more useful under the post-Watergate, pro-democracy reforms when money was more forced to flow into the more transparent channels of the campaigns which have to file reports. Since the days of the Great Liberal Obama, this is less true, and now a lot of money flows into the untraceable and opaque dark money channels and appears as Ads from “Citizens for Voldemart and Freedom and the Rules Based Order” or some such. (meant to be fictional, and no offense intended if there really is such a committee). But still, Open Secrets is a useful site for the portions of the oligarchs money that we are still allowed to see post-Obama.

    Their current front page article is how America just spent over $16 billion on an election that really only gave voters a choice of hair styles leading policies that never change and which Americans constantly tell [pollsters is ‘the wrong direction’. America may not have a functioning democracy, but it does have a very expensive one.

    I have not searched for the answer to your question, but it is at least likely that this site could help you.

    • Joe Dragnet
      November 16, 2022 at 12:50

      sorry, the above was in reply to Afdal, and I misclicked somewhere.

      BTW, since I was looking at Open Secrets, they have an article on the FTX fraud and the Democrats.
      “Megadonor No More”

      If you want to know why human beings with a functioning heart have such a hard time in the Democrat primaries, consider the party’s rule that puts no limit on donations in the portion of the election where the Democrats set the rules for their own primaries.

      “Protect Our Future PAC, which is still active according to the Federal Election Commission website, spent more than $23.3 million in Democratic primaries in the 2022 election cycle. Fifteen of the 18 candidates that benefitted from Protect Our Future PAC outside spending won their primary, and 13 went on to win the general election. ”

      Bankman-Fried was working hard to get his preferred controllers in charge of monitoring crypto. And he funded a lot of Dem primary winners into backing that scheme. But, for BF, the fraud collapses before he could get his chosen regulators put into charge of monitoring the industry via his purchases of Dems. The best democracy that crypto can buy.

    • Tom_Q_Collins
      November 16, 2022 at 15:44

      Citizens United was opposed by all the Democrat and Obama appointed SCOTUS justices. The “conservative” majority upheld it. Just FYI.

  11. LeoSun
    November 16, 2022 at 11:24

    SAM “the savior of crypto, the newest force in Democratic politics & potentially the world’s first trillionaire” BRINKMAN-FRIED running his own SCAMdemic.

    “What a s*** show … and it’s going to be crypto’s fault (instead of one guys’s fault),” Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao.

    Zhao helped kickstart the withdrawals that doomed FTX when he said Binance would sell its holdings in FTX’s crypto token FTT.

    The $hit Show is “the direct result of a rogue actor breaking every single basic rule of fiscal responsibility,” Patrick Hillman, Chief v Strategy Officer @ Binance, FTX’s biggest competitor.

    Early last week Binance appeared ready to step in to bail out FTX, but backed away after a review of FTX’s books.

    “FTX created a worthless token out of thin air and used it to make its balance sheet appear more robust than it really was.”

    – “Billionaire crypto wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried says he’s willing to spend more than $1 billion to have his say in the 2024 US elections — depending on who runs and what they want.”

    Watchdog Revolving Door Project told Politico: “They want to work with lawmakers, but the goal is to create legislation that would absolve them of any current violations of securities law.”


    – $pent MILLIONS, promising Billions, Trillons, boo$ting PACS & The Party of Jackasses aka Democrats, in the Biden-Harris & Mid-Term Election$.
    – SBF is Biden-Harris’ BA$E; the DNC’’s, Biden-Harris’ 2nd-Large$t Donor; the GOP’s 10th-largest donor.
    – FTX bought prominent sports sponsorships with Formula One Racing
    – Bought the naming rights to an arena in Miami
    – Ran Super Bowl ads featuring “Seinfeld” creator Larry David.
    – He pledged to donate $1 billion toward Democrats this election cycle —
    – His actual donations were in the tens of millions —
    – Prominent politicians like Bill Clinton were invited to speak at FTX conferences.
    – Major League Baseball umpires wore FTX patches on their uniforms.
    – Football star Tom Brady & Ex-wife Gisele Bündchen. invested in FTX.

    In a parallel universe, “POTUS would be HUMAN w/a heart; NOT a Political Corpse so mentally & physically unfit that he must be hidden. Biden-Harris, the “manufactured” POTUS is as F.U.B.A.R., as The king of crypto aka SBF; WHO just might come out of this unscathed and, as he says, do a “restart.”

    AND, A Biden-Harris, Thing 1 & Thing 2, RESTART would be a trial for war crimes & crimes against humanity. But, Congress ain’t got the balls to hold the criminals to account b/c Congress is just as criminal. The SCAMdemic lives!

    Source: Worldwide Web.

  12. michael888
    November 16, 2022 at 09:14

    Rather than voting, the US should sell all the Congressional positions as with Ambassadorships, but into the Public Treasury rather than into politicians’ campaigns. As the non-partisan site notes, in the 2022 US House elections 94.5% were won by the candidate with the most money ( ) . Selling such seats openly by bids would at least make the corruption more transparent.

    We are all waiting to find out (not a chance?) if much of FTX’s funding was actually from American taxpayers’ pockets through oligarchs in Ukraine who took huge amounts of money from Congress and, rather than using it for their war, funneled it into FTX either as an investment or to fund Democrats (which is also, in a way, a better paying investment). The idea that donations to Ukraine go into fiat currency is frankly absurd. Fiat currency, as explained by many modern monetary theorists, is what independent, sovereign nations PRINT for inside, national purposes. The Hryvnia has no value outside of corrupt Ukraine, and REAL money, from US taxpayers or from donations, will stay as real money (Euros, US dollars, Shekels or, somewhat ironically, as FTX cryptocurrency) for the use of the oligarchs outside Ukraine.

    As we saw with the requests to track and audit weapon shipments to Ukraine, the money will be totally untracked, unaudited, and unaccountable. Otherwise, as Julian Assange has noted, there would be no purpose to the Wars.

  13. Afdal
    November 16, 2022 at 09:10

    Craig wrote:
    “By far the majority of the funds channeled through Political Action Committees, or PACs, are given to incumbents who face no serious threat to re-election anyway.”

    Is there a good source for some statistics on this? I’ve never really thought about this angle before and I’d like to have some numbers ready to throw at people.

    • Scott Kremer
      November 16, 2022 at 11:05

      Sorry I don’t have any exact stats for you. I’ve seen it mentioned over and over that incumbents are generally almost certain to be re-elected, yet they are given huge amounts of money anyway.

    • LeoSun
      November 16, 2022 at 12:34

      Afdal, to answer, “Is there a good source for some statistics on this?” Indeed.

      The “world wide web” is your oyster. Start your “Search” Engine!!!” Type, Biden Bankman-Fried PACS

      The Findings:

      3.20.21 – “How a crypto billionaire decided to become one of Biden’s biggest donors”
      11.10.22- “Oops. Sam Bankman-Fried’s implosion took down Democrats’ second-biggest donor with it as the party gears up to regulate crypto.”
      11.14.22 – “Cryptocurrency billionaire broke the bank for Dems”
      11.14.22 – “FTX, Ukraine, Politics & Biden-Sam Bankman-Fried, FTX Founder: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know”
      11.15.22 – “Bankman-Fried spent millions on Dem campaigns”

      AND, many more. It’s just not the Nation’s Headline; BUT, “It is a huge exercise in corporate control from which the ordinary citizen is frozen out;” (Craig Murray)

      b/c “POWER” is so f/concentrated & gaining momentum w/each “Selected” POTUS.

      btw, “in any game of brinkmanship, it is possible that one side will collapse suddenly” (Dictionary dot com)

    • FGSd
      November 16, 2022 at 19:58 has some graphs from 1990 to 2022 under the title “PAC Dollars to Incumbents, Challengers, and Open Seat Candidates”:
      If you want to verify it, it should be based on data released by the FEC, but I guess their data isn’t so clear and may require some (or a lot of) effort.

  14. Packard
    November 16, 2022 at 08:23

    In good times, people are relaxed, trusting, and money is plentiful. But even though money is plentiful, there are always many people who need more. Under these circumstances, the rate of embezzlement grows, the rate of discovery falls off, and the bezzle increases rapidly.

    In depression, all this is reversed. Money is watched with a narrow, suspicious eye. The man who handles it is assumed to be dishonest until he proves himself otherwise. Audits are penetrating and meticulous. Commercial morality is enormously improved. The bezzle shrinks.

    The Great Crash 1929 (1955) John Kenneth Galbraith
    One way to tell if you are already in a recession is the shocking discovery of previously hidden Ponzi schemes and organized financial con games. As money becomes more dear, people begin to examine much more closely how their own money is invested. Or to borrow Warren Buffett, it would appear that Mr. SBF and his crypto pals have been caught in some fairly flagrant acts of skinning dipping as the tide is now rushing out.

    Expect to see only more examples of similar high stakes perfidy in the coming months.

  15. DW Bartoo
    November 16, 2022 at 06:52

    The effective “purpose” of voting, of elections, in the U$ are akin to putting toy steering wheels on the “little folks” car seats.

    The “adults”, up front, in CONTROL, assure the wee ones that their efforts and inputs, at the toy steering wheels DOES have an effect, and a very important one, on the direction things are going.

    To this day, the little folks absolutely believe this to be true and irrefutable PROOF that, indeed, the U$ is the world’s premier DEMOCRACY, and thus entitled, trusting in the Deity, to rule, control, and dominate every other nation and society, as well as to steal as many of the world’s resources as possible because the good life, the great life, enjoyed by all U$ians is only possible because “men with guns” make it possible.

    Any day now, two things will happen.

    First, the Great Wisdoms who decide U$ policy might well conclude that the only way to ensure that “more of the same,” as that is what voting assures, continues is to make voting mandatory.

    Shortly after “universal suffersge” is granted every single U$ian, even the least, the “adults” will happily announce that, henceforth there will be no need of voting at all because democracy is “self-driven” and that all we need do is sit back and enjoy the ride because: There is no alternative and history has ended.

    Things will be as they are until the end of time.

    Or the end of the world.

    Whichever comes first.

    Perhaps a wiser populace, conscious of its plight and confinement, might rise up and demand substantive change?

    However, the Great Ennervation of the past half-century, which has been waged to convince people, living in the West, that they’ve no real agency, no real capacity to change anything (after all, what we “have” is perfect, almost heavenly.

    Every single U$ian who votes/voted for either wing of the U$ War and Money Party, is simply begging for More of the Same (please, kind sir or madam …) and legitimizing the continuing corruption, war-profiteering, and impoverishment of the many to please finance capitalism, and those, quite like the “hero” of this article, who, presumably, we are to thank for his great service to empire and the Democrats.

    It is only fair that pathologically destructive behavior is rewarded and, like most other “ambitious” scum, he should be allowed to keep his personal “accumulation,” as did the Sacklers and so very many others, for it simply would not be fair that he should face any consequence but praise and acclaim.

    Indeed, all good little “job” and “wealth” creators ought be held in special and great esteem.

    Hillary Clinton once said, “We should get down on our knees and thank God for the rich.”

    You know, as example and direction.

    Let us emulate the the lifestyles of the rich and famous, considering all the goodness, wellbeing, and prosperity which they have “trickled down” upon us.

    The great worry must be that the nefarious behavior will tarnish the Dem$ and cause skepticism among the slow-witted masses all yearning to become rich and above the law, just like their betters, the best and brightest.

    In passing, let us note that none of what has transpired, in the U$, for the past half-century, not the neoliberalism, not the precarity or homelessness and so on, not ANY of it has been noticed at Institutions of Higher Learning, and the communities around such stellar centers of learning and awareness.

    Of course, neither has the U$ media who are busy propagandizing the many ever since Saint Obama did away with the Smith-Mundt Act which prohibited the U$ gummint from so doing.

    Ain’t progress great?

    Speaking of great gobs of money, and recalling what Obama said about the Bank FRAUD ( for such it was), “Well, it may not be ethical but it is legal”. Of course he left out the fact that his predecessor, Bill Clinton, got rid of the Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited thee very actions in which the banksters engaged.

    Frankly, the obscenely “well off” ALWAYS get their money’s worth
    from both wings of the War and Money Party.

    Some might even claim that fact is precisely what makes ‘Merka” GREAT.

    Corporations are people and money is speech.

    War is peace.

    And the U$ is “Full Spectrum Dominance”.

    • November 18, 2022 at 17:45

      Bill Clinton signed the bill to get rid of Glass-Steagall, which was written and sponsored by Phil Gramm , called the Gramm- Leach – Bailey Act. It was approved by a large enough Republican majority, which made it “veto proof”. The blame belongs with those who wrote and voted voted for the legislation, not Clinton.
      The Republican majority is what enabled the legislation to pass.

  16. Carolyn Zaremba
    November 15, 2022 at 22:13

    I didn’t understand half of this article. What is fiat money? What are SOLs?

    • Afdal
      November 16, 2022 at 09:19

      “Fiat money” is what normal members of the human race refer to as “actual money I can pay my bills and taxes with”. Crypto clowns have to use an extra adjective in their attempts to disparage actual money and make their speculative commodities seem more legitimate. “SOL” appears to be the stock shorthand for Solana, which is just another one of these speculative commodity scams. So basically FTX converted their speculative commodity into another speculative commodity and then patted themselves on the back for it.

    • robert e williamson jr
      November 16, 2022 at 11:01

      Fiat money is money not backed by anything other than promises or something of the order. SOL is the name of a bit-coin token involved here.

    • Scott Kremer
      November 16, 2022 at 11:09

      Fiat money is ordinary currency. SOL appears to be a cryptocurrency.

    • Jeff Harrison
      November 16, 2022 at 11:43

      Fiat money is the term used for currencies that aren’t backed by something real, like gold. The US dollar is a fiat currency since it has not been backed by gold since Nixon took us off the gold standard in 1971. The US$ is worth what we claim it is worth not it’s intrinsic value which in the absence of an absolute like gold means it gets tied to GDP which is shaky now since the US debt is substantially more than its GDP.

      SOLs are Solanas a crypto currency issued by the Solana foundation. It’s currently trading at $14 a pop.

      • michael888
        November 17, 2022 at 12:09

        While I agree with all the above definitions, up to a point, after Nixon took us off the gold standard, the dollar became essentially the petrodollar (the US supports the genocide of the Yemeni, the Saudis demand payment for their oil in US dollars). Biden’s sanctions on Russia, and Putin’s countering by demanding Russian currency from the sanctioning nations, may have destroyed the petrodollar.
        While any sovereign nation can PRINT fiat money, to some extent fine for national use at Fed/ federal government declared value, there are always resources deficient within a nation. If these are necessities, free trade requires inflation in price for these resources/ necessities. Ironically, despite more diverse resources than (maybe) a handful of other countries, our huge trade deficit with China and SE Asia in general is putting tremendous pressure on the fiat dollar, global trade cannot be monopolized.
        As the US dollar drifts away from being the standard of trade, it behooves the US to make agreements/ concessions tying all the major global currencies together (since globally, all resources are available), all supporting each other (again up to a point). If not, if the hegemonic dollar floats alone, eventually necessities cannot be bought, and the fiat dollar becomes worthless.

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