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FTX founder Bankman-Fried set to testify before U.S. House panel

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WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (Reuters) –

FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried is set to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services on Dec. 13, the cryptocurrency exchange’s founder and the congressional panel said on Friday, as regulators investigate his role in the wake of its collapse.

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A day earlier, the committee’s chair, Maxine Waters, told Reuters that she is prepared to subpoena Bankman-Fried if he does not agree to appear before the panel.

In a statement put out late on Friday by the House of Representatives committee, the panel said it would hear from newly-appointed FTX CEO John Ray and from Bankman-Fried, FTX’s founder and former CEO, on Dec. 13.

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“I still do not have access to much of my data — professional or personal. So there is a limit to what I will be able to say, and I won’t be as helpful as I’d like,” Bankman-Fried said on Friday on Twitter.

“But as the committee still thinks it would be useful, I am willing to testify on the 13th,” he added.

The hybrid hearing was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) on Tuesday, the committee said.

In recent weeks, U.S. authorities have sought information from investors and potential investors in FTX, two sources with knowledge of the requests told Reuters. Prosecutors and regulators have not charged Bankman-Fried with any crime.

BATTLING CRYPTO PIONEERS

FTX filed for bankruptcy last month and Bankman-Fried stepped down as chief executive, after traders pulled $6 billion from the platform in three days and rival exchange Binance abandoned a rescue deal.

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Reuters detailed last month the bitter rivalry between Bankman-Fried and Binance Chief Executive Changpeng Zhao, who had in the months before FTX’s downfall competed for market share.

Public tension between the two erupted again on Friday after a string of tweets by Zhao.

Zhao said after Binance – an early investor in FTX – sought to exit its stake over one-and-a-half years ago, Bankman-Fried made “offensive tirades” against Binance team members.

Binance sold back to FTX its stake in the company last year.

In reply, Bankman-Fried wrote: “We initiated conversations around buying you out, and we decided to do it because it was important for our business.”

“You threatened to walk at the last minute if we didn’t kick in an extra ~$75m,” he added. “You didn’t even have the rights to pull out as an investor unless we chose to buy you out–much of the tokens/equity were still locked.”

“Not that it matters now. You also can’t force us to sell if we don’t want to,” Zhao replied.

“It was never a competition or fight. No one won.” (Reporting by Mehnaz Yasmin in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Sriraj Kalluvila and Diane Craft)

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