PRIME Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
AS he expressed concern about The Bahamas suffering reputational damage because of FTX’s implosion, Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis branded criticisms levelled at the country in the international media as an “unfair” characterisation.
Yesterday, Mr Davis also told reporters that he had no knowledge of the Progressive Liberal Party, which he leads, receiving any money from FTX. He said he did not know whether any Cabinet ministers held any FTX digital wallets or portfolios.
“I do not know that,” Mr Davis said yesterday when he was asked directly about himself and Cabinet ministers being involved with the company. “In fact, I’m agnostic to it. I don’t hold any wallet and I’m not aware of any of my Cabinet ministers.”
He also denied that the government had invested in any form with FTX.
Mr Davis addressed the issue on the sidelines of a key presentation at the Pinecrest subdivision.
The Bahamas has grabbed headlines in the international media over the FTX saga. Some commentary has been critical of this country’s digital asset regulations, saying it is one thing to have such laws but another to enforce them.
Asked what he would say about the criticisms launched at the country in the wake of FTX’s collapse, Mr Davis said: “I think it’s unfair. It’s an unfair characterisation. I’m not concerned about our reputation in that regard because most of what is being said is the posturing of persons who would wish to have the liquidation under their control so once that is settled you will see that everything will blow over.”
Later during the interview and while responding to a question about government exposure from the situation, the prime minister said: “We have no exposure to it. (The) only issue I am concerned about is I have positioned The Bahamas to be the leading jurisdiction in the digital assets space.
“I am intending to keep that position and the only thing of concern is reputational consequences and I am dealing with that.”
Mr Davis went on to address assertions about how close government representatives were to the company, stemming from a photo circulating on social media of his senior policy advisor Jerome Fitzgerald attending an FTX office opening in Chicago alongside former PLP Senator Allyson Maynard Gibson and Tanya McCartney, a financial services expert, telling reporters he could not recall whether his advisor attended.
Mr Davis said The Bahamas-based crypto exchange had invited him to speak during the event and clarified that Mr Fitzgerlad was initially to travel with the prime minister.
However, Mr Davis said he was unable to be there due to another engagement.
The photo was shared on social media by FTXs vice president of communications and corporate social responsibility back in May.
“Whether he went, I don’t recall but I had another engagement and I could not make that trip,” Mr Davis said.
His comments come amid fears that FTX’s co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried may have violated a Bahamas Supreme Court order when he placed some 134 group entities under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware.
US attorneys representing the Bahamian joint provisional liquidators for FTX Digital Markets, the collapsed crypto exchange’s local subsidiary, have raised concerns that Mr Bankman-Fried breached the asset freeze and order obtained by the Securities Commission on Thursday, November 10, through such actions.
That order, issued by Chief Justice Ian Winder, also stripped Mr Bankman-Fried and his fellow FTX Digital Markets directors of all their powers and transferred control of the company to Brian Simms KC, senior partner at the Lennox Paton law firm. However, the FTX co-founder then signed the documents placing FTX Trading and the group’s non-Bahamian assets into Chapter 11 protection at 4.30am on Friday morning.
On Sunday, Free National Movement Chairman Dr Duane Sands insisted the Davis administration must be seen to want to urgently get to the bottom of the situation, doubling down on his party’s continued calls for transparency.
FNM leader Michael Pintard has said the Davis administration was obligated to clearly indicate if it had any intimate relationship with companies that are in the country that can give the impression that entities were able to operate with impunity because of the nature of that relationship.