Incoming Kraken CEO says FTX and SBF are ‘complete frauds, thieves’

David Ripley, incoming CEO at cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, didn’t mince words when speaking about Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF).

“I think, what it boils down to from all the information we have [and] this bankruptcy report that has now been released is that FTX and SBF are complete frauds—not just frauds, but thieves,” Ripley, who also served as COO at Kraken for over six years, tells Fortune.

Last week, it seemed cryptocurrency exchange Binance and its CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao had entertained the idea of helping FTX. But after due diligence, Binance and CZ opted out, citing issues at FTX that were “beyond our control or ability to help.”

Soon after, reports circulated that FTX approached Kraken as a potential partner, but Ripley notes that a rescue was never in the cards.

“We’re constantly getting more inbound acquisition inquiries than I myself can keep track of, but there was never any legitimate discussion on acquiring FTX at any point,” he said. “It wouldn’t make sense for Kraken on a number of fronts.”

Ripley also maintains that Kraken doesn’t have any exposure to FTX, Digital Currency Group (DCG), or any entities tied to SBF.

Kraken is currently cooperating with law enforcement, Ripley said, after someone behind a series of “unauthorized transactions” moved money from FTX to Kraken after FTX filed for bankruptcy. Kraken has said it knows the person’s identity but Ripley declined to share.

Looking ahead, Ripley sees promise in centralized exchanges issuing “proof of reserves,” which, in theory, would offer users transparency about assets and liabilities on exchanges used. This is something Kraken has done for years, Ripley said.

Ripley also views self custody, or personal ownership of cryptocurrency, to be important. “Self custody is on the rise,” he said.

But, to Ripley, “the centralized exchanges are always going to have a role …. to build [a] bridge from the legacy traditional financial system, from fiat to crypto.”

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