(Crypto) Empire State of Mind: Sam Bankman-Fried allegedly met with Bill Clinton and Kathy Hochul in NYC 2 months before FTX collapsed


In early September 2022, Sam Bankman-Fried, former CEO of FTX, had an emotional conversation with FTX lieutenant Nishad Singh about how his now-shuttered crypto hedge fund had siphoned approximately $13 billion from his now-bankrupt crypto exchange. “I was blindsided and horrified,” Singh, former head of engineering at FTX, testified on Monday.

But just weeks after his conversation with Singh, and less than two months before FTX collapsed, Bankman-Fried, according to court documents, was ping-ponging through New York City as he hobnobbed with some of the world’s most influential and wealthy personalities, including former President Bill Clinton, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairperson of oil behemoth Saudi Aramco.

Here’s how the onetime crypto mogul—now on trial accused of defrauding customers, investors, and lenders—spent a week in the Big Apple, just before his empire spectacularly collapsed.


Emails and calendar invites exhibited at court on Tuesday—primarily to prove that New York prosecutors have the jurisdiction to bring charges against the crypto founder—show that Bankman-Fried had the politically powerful at his beck and call.

After an alleged meeting with NYC Mayor Eric Adams in March 2022 at Osteria La Baia, which offers customers “a journey to Italy without leaving Manhattan,” Bankman-Fried ventured back to Manhattan on Sept. 16 to meet with Gov. Hochul from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at (most likely) the Capital Grille, whose menu features filet mignon, “a timeless entrée prepared to your liking.”

Cellular phone data confirmed that the former FTX CEO was indeed in Manhattan during scheduled meetings with both New York politicians, according to an FBI agent who did a forensic analysis of Bankman-Fried’s phone. However, a spokesperson for Hochul did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fortune about where she met with Bankman-Fried and what, if any, entrée she ordered. And neither did the press team for Adams immediately respond to whether their meetup indeed mirrored a “journey to Italy.”

Then, on Sept. 20, the former FTX CEO was scheduled to meet with Bill Clinton, once the leader of the free world, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the New York Hilton Midtown. Cell data, again, confirmed that he was in the vicinity. And yet again, media representatives at the Clinton Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fortune on the details of said encounter.

…and moneymen

Bankman-Fried not only had a taste for political power but for money, and court exhibits illustrate that he spent part of his visit to New York looking to drum up capital, including a late-night dinner at The Pierre, a five-star hotel that overlooks Central Park.

It was there, according to a calendar invite and subsequent cell data, that Bankman-Fried dined with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the chair of Saudi Aramco and governor of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. (Media representatives for Saudi Aramco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

And the next day, emails indicate that Bankman-Fried met with even more moneymen, including Khalid A. Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s minister of investment, as well as Alfred Chuang, founder and general partner of Race Capital, a venture outfit.

According to testimony from three lieutenants-turned-government-witnesses, Bankman-Fried was trying to raise money to fill what eventually would be exposed as an $8 billion hole in FTX finances after the former CEO allegedly directed staff members to use customer funds.

Saudi money never materialized, FTX collapsed, Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire crumbled with it, and he eventually ended up indicted by the Justice Department.

Now, Bankman-Fried is back in New York for what’s been called the “trial of the decade,” but, instead of dinners with the wealthy and powerful, he’s staring at potentially decades in prison and eating PBJs.

Learn more about all things crypto with short, easy-to-read lesson cards. Click here for Fortune’s Crypto Crash Course.