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VERIFY: No evidence crypto company FTX laundered Ukraine aid money to Democrats

Crypto exchange FTX did help with a fundraising site for Ukraine. But there’s no evidence it laundered U.S. aid money back to Democratic lawmakers.

FTX, a platform where people can buy and sell cryptocurrency, has made headlines in recent weeks after it suffered billions of dollars worth of losses and sought bankruptcy protection

The company and its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, are under investigation for allegedly investing depositors’ funds in ventures without their approval. 

Now, viral claims circulating on social media allege that FTX laundered U.S. government aid money sent to Ukraine back to Democratic lawmakers. 

Many of the posts allege that Ukraine invested U.S. aid money into FTX instead. Then, the posts claim FTX donated that money back to Democratic lawmakers in an alleged money laundering scheme. 

THE QUESTION

Did FTX launder U.S. aid money sent to Ukraine back to Democratic lawmakers? 

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, there isn’t any evidence that FTX laundered U.S. aid money sent to Ukraine back to Democratic lawmakers. 

WHAT WE FOUND

There is a connection between donations to Ukraine and FTX. But Ukraine didn’t invest in FTX, and U.S. aid to the country couldn’t be used in the money-laundering schemes alleged on social media, government agencies and cryptocurrency companies other than FTX say.  

The claims tie back to a fundraising effort that began in March. 

In March 2022, a website for the fundraising foundation Aid for Ukraine, which raised virtual cryptocurrency funds for Ukraine’s military and humanitarian needs, officially launched

On March 11, the National Bank of Ukraine confirmed that more than $1 million U.S. dollars raised through individuals’ donations to Aid for Ukraine had already been transferred into the bank’s account. 

These donations are separate from the tens of billions of dollars in U.S. government aid money that has already been sent to Ukraine. 

More from VERIFY: Yes, the U.S. has pledged the most aid to Ukraine of any country

FTX assisted with the transfer process for less than a month. 

Aid for Ukraine used FTX to convert cryptocurrency donations into Ukraine’s government-backed fiat currency in the early days of March 2022, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine told VERIFY.

The cryptocurrency funds were not stored on FTX, according to a tweet from Everstake, a company that runs the technology behind cryptocurrency and helped run Aid for Ukraine. 

Additionally, FTX wasn’t the main platform collecting donations. Aid for Ukraine was powered by cryptocurrency exchange Kuna and Everstake, the Ministry said.  

“FTX was to provide a fiat off-ramp for converting crypto donations, and Kuna would send crypto there to get cash and pay for needed equipment for the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” the Ministry spokesperson wrote in an email. “Aid For Ukraine has not been using FTX since April 2022. Now, their cooperation is completely terminated.”

The Ministry said it “never had any direct relationship with FTX” and only “provided informational support” to Aid for Ukraine. 

More from VERIFY: Fact Sheet: 6 ways to fact-check if a social media account requesting Ukraine donations is a scam

A key part of the viral claim is that Ukraine invested U.S. government aid money back into FTX, which then allegedly “laundered” the money to Democrats.

But the Ministry never invested any funds into FTX, and neither did any other ministries in Ukraine, the country’s Ministry of Digital Transformation spokesperson said. 

It is true that FTX founder Bankman-Fried made large donations to Democratic lawmakers, as some of the social media posts claim, Federal Elections Commission (FEC) filings show. But he has also donated to a handful of Republican candidates. 

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department told VERIFY that it has “no reason to believe” that the reports about U.S. aid to Ukraine being laundered to Democrats are “anything but pure falsehoods and misinformation.”

The direct aid from the U.S. to Ukraine is transmitted to Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance through the World Bank, according to the State Department.

“There are agreements and monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure that U.S. funds are used for verified [government of Ukraine] expenses; the types of expenses for which U.S. funds can be used are specifically enumerated in those agreements,” the spokesperson said. 

A spokesperson for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a government agency responsible for administering foreign aid, also said direct assistance to Ukraine “cannot be used for the schemes being alleged.”

“Robust safeguards put in place by the World Bank, coupled with expert third-party monitoring support (funded by USAID) embedded within the Ukrainian government, ensure accountability and transparency in the use of these funds,” the spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement. 

FTX did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. 

More from VERIFY: Yes, Russia promised in 1994 to never attack Ukraine if it gave up its nuclear weapons

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