FTX investigates $6.5M AI safety group payments amid clawback campaign

By: Henry Felix

FTX investigates $6.5M AI safety group payments amid clawback campaign

October 26, 2023 6:06 AM

Financially troubled cryptocurrency exchange FTX wants to investigate millions it donated to the Center for AI Safety, a group that has advocated artificial intelligence (AI) needs to be prioritized globally alongside pandemics and nuclear war.

The defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX wants details about payments totaling millions of dollars it made to the nonprofit Center for AI Safety (CAIS).

Months before the crypto exchange failed and declared bankruptcy, on October 25, its lawyers alleged in a bankruptcy court statement that the company had given $6.5 million to CAIS between May and September 2022.

FTX has requested that a judge in the Delaware Bankruptcy Court issue subpoenas to CAIS in order to investigate whether or whether CAIS has had any dealings with FTX, its affiliates, or former executives, including the receipt of money, funds, communications, agreements, or contracts.



FTX's proposed proposal is outlined in the highlighted section 
of the document. Source: Kroll

The two companies allegedly spoke over the phone in August and exchanged emails in early October, but CAIS allegedly rejected "requests to voluntarily provide an accounting related to the transfers."

In the wake of its bankruptcy in November 2022, FTX has requested an investigation into CAIS as part of its efforts to collect funds to reimburse its creditors and consumers. In a report submitted in June, FTX stated that it had recovered almost $7 billion and was short $1.7 billion in client cash.

The Center for AI Safety is well known for a public statement it released in May, in which it argued that preventing extinction due to AI should be considered a higher priority than preventing nuclear war. Several notable people, such as OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and "Godfather of AI" Geoffrey Hinton, put their names to the declaration.

The proposed subpoenas issued by FTX demand that CAIS produce a wide variety of transfers, documents, and communications it acquired from FTX, FTX Philanthropy, the FTX Foundation, the FTX Future Fund, "or any officer, director, contractor, or employee" of FTX.

It also requests correspondence from Alameda Research's former CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX's former lawyers Can Sun and Daniel Friedberg, as well as co-founders Sam Bankman-Fried and Gary Wang, Bankman-Fried's father Joseph Bankman and brother Gabriel Bankman-Fried.