Sam Bankman-Fried and Anthony Scaramucci open up this year’s SALT conference in New York.
Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, told attendees at this year’s SALT-New York event that he thinks U.S. lawmakers will draft a bill or other framework setting new rules for digital assets within a year, and that he’s been regularly traveling to Washington on lobbying trips.
Speaking by video, Bankman-Fried kicked off a conference that began with a focus on issues of government regulation, which has created tension with the crypto industry, reflecting at least in part laws written in a pre-digital age. The SALT conference was sponsored by FTX and Anthony Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Capital, and it comes just days after the exchange announced it had acquired a 30% stake in the investment firm at an undisclosed price, expanding existing ties between the companies.
SkyBridge, managed by the former White House director of communications-turned-bitcoin evangelist, said it would use proceeds to buy $40 million of cryptocurrencies.
Bankman-Fried told the mostly suit-clad traditional finance audience, whose approach to fashion was in contrast to his signature disheveled-hair and t-shirt look that a big part of his lobbying efforts have been “heartening” and that he was “surprisingly optimistic” about the outlook for a more clearly defined regulatory framework.
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His conversations with lawmakers in recent weeks, he told conference attendees, concerned investor and customer protections. “I’ve been sort of pleasantly surprised, by the extent to which a lot of people in D.C. are honestly just trying to figure out how they can do the right thing,” he said.
Bankman-Fried is worth an estimated $17.6 billion, Forbes calculates, and he was seen as crypto’s knight in shining armor when he provided funding to crypto firms exposed to failed lenders including Three Arrows Capital (3AC) and Voyager Digital. But a more apt title may be D.C. lobbyist. Based in the Bahamas, the FTX CEO revealed he is now visiting Washington more than once a month.
FTX executives also have been not-so-quietly donating funds to an increasing number of political campaigns. Bankman-Fried made the second-largest donation to Joe Biden’s presidential run, and more recently FTX’s head of engineering indirectly gave $1.1 million to a congressional candidate in Vermont.
Not everyone in attendance shared Bankman-Fried’s optimism. Speaking on a panel titled “To The Moon and Back: Macro Outlook for Digital Assets” moderated by Scaramucci, CEOs Mike Novogratz of investment firm Galaxy Digital and Tom Farley, the incoming leader of crypto exchange Bullish, were skeptical of the chances of positive changes by Washington in the near future.
“We’re in a point of frustration,” said Novogratz, pointing to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) “regulation by enforcement” method that has drawn criticism from industry leaders and other regulators alike.
“We’re not getting clarity, we’re not getting a bill in the fall, and we’re not getting clarity from the SEC and CFTC in the fall,” said Farley, making reference to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. “We’re going to be muddling through here, at least in the United States.”
SALT will run through Sept. 14 at the Javits Center in New York.


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