FTX? Never heard of it. Bahamas goes ahead with blockchain bonanza

The fintech festival was initially planned for January 2023, but organizers postponed it after FTX went bankrupt

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The Securities Commission of the Bahamas — the chief regulator responsible for overseeing the activities of FTX in its heyday — announced Tuesday that it was bringing back its fintech festival. 

The festival, now set for October, was supposed to happen in January of this year, the Nassau Guardian reported. But the event, which “aims to spotlight the Bahamas as a nexus of innovation in the realms of digital assets, decentralization, and blockchain technology,” was postposted after FTX collapsed and went bankrupt in November 2022

Organizers extended invitations to more than 800 builders, international regulators, investors, founders and thought leaders to discuss “the pillars of regulation, the building blocks of FinTech, and the steps to a successful digital economy,” according to a statement from the commission. 

Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis added that his country is committed to facilitating “innovation and cross-border development.”

The statement made no mention of FTX, despite its bankruptcy still very much unfolding and founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial still in progress.

Read more: US prosecutors drop campaign finance charges against SBF

The Bahamian government appears to be treating the FTX disaster — an event that wiped out around $9 billion in wealth when its native token FTT tanked — as a footnote in its quest to onboard digital assets into the global economy. 

The defunct crypto exchange’s ties to the Bahamas officially began in September 2021 when it ditched Hong Kong to begin setting up its headquarters in the Caribbean nation

Concerning the move, Bankman-Fried told Blockworks at the time that the Bahamas had taken a “proactive stance” on cryptocurrencies regulation. At the same time Hong Kong didn’t have a clear regulatory framework, experts said. 

In recent months, Hong Kong has become a hub for crypto companies following its introduction of a crypto licensing regime. 

The Bahamas had a buddy-buddy attitude toward FTX and Bankman-Fried as the company prepared to move to its shores and construct a $60 million company campus. 

At a groundbreaking ceremony in April 2022, Prime Minister Davis said FTX left “positive footprints” throughout the country.

Read more: Did The Bahamas Really Seize $3.5B in Crypto? FTX Says No

As an addendum to those comments, his administration rolled out a white paper called “The Future of Digital Assets in The Bahamas” on April 20, 2022. The document detailed a four-year vision, in which the commonwealth could become a leader in that sector. 

That plan was interrupted on Nov. 10 of that same year when the Bahamas securities regulator had to step in and freeze FTX’s assets.

On Nov. 13, 2022, the Bahamian police launched an investigation to uncover potential criminal conduct. Later, Bankman-Fried consented to extradition and left the island nation to be prosecuted in the US.


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