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ESG Virtue Signalling

Sam Bankman-Fried
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By: The Editorial Board – wsj.com – November 17, 2022

Mr. Bankman-Fried on Wednesday tweeted a rambling account attempting to explain how he managed to lose billions of dollars in FTX customer funds. “I was on the cover of every magazine, and FTX was the darling of Silicon Valley,” he noted. As a result, “we got overconfident and careless.” There’s an understatement for the digital ages.

Mr. Bankman-Fried virtue-signaled by committing to make FTX “carbon neutral” and donating generously to fashionable progressive causes such as a foundation working to provide solar energy in the Amazon River basin. “We’re giving millions each year to launch sustainability related initiatives,” he said in an April Forbes magazine interview with—you can’t make this up—Brazilian super-model Gisele Bündchen.

Meanwhile, he was leveraging FTX customer funds to make risky, ill-timed bets. “Problems were brewing. Larger than I realized,” he tweeted. “In the future, I’m going to care less about the dumb, contentless, ‘good actor’ framework,” he added. “What matters is what you do—is *actually* doing good or bad, not just *talking* about doing good or *using ESG language*.”

Mr. Bankman-Fried is also acknowledging that he genuflected to regulators and Democratic lawmakers to win political protection. ESG ratings company Truvalue Labs even gave FTX a higher score on “leadership and governance” than Exxon Mobil, though the crypto exchange had only three directors on its board. The directors were Mr. Bankman-Fried, another FTX executive and an outside attorney. Truvalue Labs says FTX was given an overall “laggard” score.

“ESG has been perverted beyond recognition,” Mr. Bankman-Fried confessed in an interview this week with Vox in which he also acknowledged that his advocacy for strong crypto regulations was “just PR.”

He said he feels “bad for those who get” harmed by “this dumb game we woke westerners play where we say all the right shiboleths [sic] and so everyone likes us.” Ah, yes, the poor saps who invest in companies because they claim to be sustainable.

For the record, Mr. Bankman-Fried denies wrongdoing. “It was never the intention” to bilk customers, he said. Maybe not. But here is an object lesson for investors and the American public in how progressive virtue-signaling is used to conceal business vices. Some people will believe anything if you wrap a chance to get rich quick in political fashion.

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Source: Sam Bankman-Fried Becomes an ESG Truth-Teller – WSJ