ProPublica Announces Return Of Tainted FTX Funds

Nonprofit investigative news outlet ProPublica announced it will reject the $1.6 million in funding provided by disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s family foundation.

Bankman-Fried was arrested last week on numerous charges related to the collapse of the cryptocurrency brokerage he founded. Among them were wire fraud and conspiracy charges over fraud, money laundering, and campaign finance infractions.

A statement was issued by ProPublica President and co-CEO Robin Sparkman along with Editor-in-Chief and co-CEO Stephen Engelberg. The pair informed the staff that they have the board’s support in returning the funds to the Building a Stronger Future foundation.

They explained, “it does not seem appropriate to keep these funds.”

The $1.6 million will be held in a separate account until a “bankruptcy judge or other legal authority” determines where the money should go.

ProPublica entered an agreement with Building a Stronger Future to receive $5 million in donations over three years. The money was tied to investigations the company would conduct “into ongoing questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, biosecurity, and public health preparedness.

That agreement has since been canceled. The outlet said it notified FTX’s bankruptcy counsel of its decision to reject the funds.

ProPublica also announced that its COVID-19 investigations will continue and that it will use other resources to support the team behind the probes.

Several other media outlets, including Vox Media, The Intercept, The Block, and Semafor took money from Bankman-Friend. They now face decisions on what to do with the tainted donations.

The Block, which did not reveal receiving the funds until earlier this month, said it does not intend to return the money.

Semafor announced it will leave the decision to federal agencies investigating the crumbled FTX empire. CEO Justin Smith said that Bankman-Fried had “no influence on our editorial coverage or operations.”

The Financial Times disclosed documents that showed, along with funding several U.S. media outlets, FTX gave $5 million to Chinese cryptocurrency site Odaily News. It also donated tens of millions to mostly left-wing political organizations and campaigns.

It was just Monday when Bankman-Fried agreed to be extradited from the Bahamas to the U.S., where he faces eight criminal charges. FTX was a crypto powerhouse valued at $32 billion earlier this year before its November bankruptcy.