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Founder of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX denies he has fled to South America

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The former chief executive of one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges has denied he fled to South America after firm filed for bankruptcy.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was asked by Reuters about Twitter speculation he had flown to Argentina and responded in a text message: “Nope.”

The 30-year-old, who has been removed as chief executive, told Reuters he was in the Bahamas, where he lives.

Meanwhile the crypto exchange has become mired in further controversy after it said it had detected unauthorised transactions and analysts flagged that millions of dollars of assets had been moved from the platform in “suspicious circumstances”.

FTX filed for bankruptcy on Friday after its bigger rival Binance walked away from a proposed acquisition.

At least $1bn (£845m) worth of customer funds have vanished from the platform, Reuters reported, quoting sources.

The news agency said Mr Bankman-Fried had transferred $10bn (£8.4bn) of customer funds to his trading company, Alameda Research.

Further problems emerged when FTX’s US general counsel Ryne Miller tweeted to say the firm’s digital assets were being moved into so-called cold storage “to mitigate damage upon observing unauthorised transactions”.

Cold storage refers to crypto wallets which are not connected to the internet to guard against hackers.

Earlier Mr Miller tweeted to say he was “investigating abnormalities with wallet movements related to consolidation of FTX balances across exchanges.”

Blockchain analytics firm Nansen said it saw $659m (£557m) in outflows from FTX International and FTX US in the last 24 hours.

A separate analytics firm, Elliptic, said around $473m (£400m) worth of cryptoassets were “moved out of FTX wallets in suspicious circumstances early this morning”, but it could not confirm the tokens had been stolen.

The crisis surrounding the exchange has raised further questions about the regulation of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets.

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