Stop making jokes about startups based in the Bahamas.
That wasn’t the official message of the country’s government reps last night during a national address, but we all know that a snicker or two naturally accompanies conversation around the fact that FTX (and other crypto companies) is based in the tropical island country.
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The spoken or unspoken insinuation is that the country likely doesn’t carry the same rules, regulations or enforcement as other major markets.
Not true, say the country’s leaders.
In fact, Bahamas’ government officials came out strongly last night in defense of the country’s actions in the wake of the FTX implosion during a video released on the Office of the Prime Minister’s YouTube page.
Government of The Bahamas Attorney General Ryan Pinder released a 20-plus minute pre-recorded video last night outlining the country’s actions surrounding the FTX drama that has unfolded in recent weeks.
“It is important for me to share this summary of what took place, because over the last few weeks the basic facts have been obscured by guessing games and rumors,” Pinder said. “We understand the enormous interest in this story, but as a government we decided right away that what was most important was not to engage with speculation or gossip, but instead to proceed methodically and deliberately in accordance with the exercise of due process and the rule of law.”
The country’s securities and exchange commission suspended FTX Digital Market’s license, appointed liquidators “swiftly” and secured the companies’ assets, according to Pinder.
Who are the funded startups in the Bahamas?
A query of Crunchbase data shows that of the nine recently funded companies headquartered in the Bahamas, the majority operate in the blockchain space.
This includes FTX (obviously), but notable also is Orderly Network, which uses an on-chain orderbook to provide a platform through decentralized exchange protocol and modular ecosystems. Orderly received a $20 million seed round in June, according to Crunchbase data.
But not all funded startups on the list operate in the crypto space. Odyssey Aviation, a network of fixed-base operations and ground handling stations serving the private aviation community, reportedly raised an undisclosed round in September from Granite Creek Partners and others, according to Crunchbase.
For his part, Pinder made it clear last night that the Bahamas is a safe, legal and respectable place to do business.
“Any attempt to lay the entirety of this debacle at the feet of the Bahamas, because FTX is headquartered here, would be a gross oversimplification of reality,” said Pinder in the video. “… we have been shocked at the ignorance of those who have said that FTX came to the Bahamas because they did not want to submit to regulatory scrutiny.”
Meanwhile, disavowed FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried liked and retweeted the Office of the Prime Minister of The Bahamas’ tweet on the speech.
Cue the eyeroll.