Depending on which source you believe, there are between 20 and 30 billionaires worldwide who have made their money primarily in cryptocurrency trading. Last fall, in less than 30 days, four of that elite number died under unusual circumstances. Given that all four were relatively young and in good health, the actuarial odds against this happening are astronomical.
At a time of immense volatility and unprecedented corruption in the crypto markets, the deaths have raised reasonable suspicions. In the financial press, on Reddit forums and on podcasts, journalists and amateur detectives are inundated with questions, speculation and theories of foul play.
The first and most strange of these deaths occurred on the morning of October 28, when 29-year-old American Nikolai Mushegian was found drowned in the water near a beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Mushegian co-founded crypto lending platform MakerDAO, and helped design the stablecoin cryptocurrency architecture.
Hours before the discovery, he posted a tweet saying that US and Israeli intelligence agencies and a “pedo elite” intended to assassinate him and claimed that his ex-girlfriend was a spy.
In other troubling posts, Mushegian previously tweeted about “rogue” people in “central banking cartels” who used “debts and blackmail” as weapons and that he feared he was being “set up by the CIA”. would commit suicide”. News reports quoted unnamed sources, telling friends, “He saw a psychiatrist several times. He smoked a lot of pot. A tremendous amount.
Citing police reports, the local press printed that Mushegian was swimming when he was swept away by strong rip currents. This is odd, given that he was found fully clothed with the wallet in his pocket.
Three died in four days
Then, three weeks later, three more crypto billionaires died in the span of only four days.
On November 22, Javier Biosca died in an exclusive hotel in the resort town of Estepona in southern Spain. Initially, his lawyer stated that he had accidentally fallen from the fifth-floor balcony, but later reports stated that he had jumped to his death in the presence of witnesses.
Biosca brokered crypto through his company, Algorithmics Group, and is accused by Spanish authorities of operating a Ponzi scheme and defrauding more than 750 investors out of more than half a billion euros.
He had been released on bail of €1 million only three weeks earlier and was believed to be on the run from Russian and Romanian organized crime figures based in Andalusia.
In the weeks prior to his arrest, Bioska had unsuccessfully attempted to buy a bank in Guinea-Bissau. It is claimed that Biosca’s crypto wallet contained 37,000 bitcoins, which have since been moved to a hardware ‘cold wallet’. On the day of his death, bitcoin hit a two-year low following the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX exchange.
The very next day, Tiantian Kullander, the 30-year-old co-founder of Amber Group, reportedly died unexpectedly in his sleep. A Hong Kong native, Kullander co-founded the Jamaica-based digital asset group with a group of other Goldman-Sachs and Morgan Stanley alumni.
Ember Group was valued at over $3 billion and recently raised $200 million in funding.
While influential news reporting praised Kullander as a hardworking and devoted family man, there was as yet no medical explanation for why such a young man would die suddenly in his sleep.
Two days later, 53-year-old Russian crypto billionaire Vyacheslav Taran was traveling from Lausanne, Switzerland to Monaco when his helicopter crashed, killing him along with the French pilot. Another passenger scheduled for the flight avoided death by canceling at the last minute.
Taran co-founded and is the chairman of the crypto and forex trading platform Libertex Group, and the founder of The Forex Club, a group of multinational forex traders. He was reported in the Ukrainian press to have links with Russian intelligence agencies.
Taran joins a growing list of Russian billionaires who died under suspicious circumstances last year.
It remains to be speculated as to what effect the events taking place in the crypto markets may have on these deaths. But it’s worth noting that they happened at the same time that Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX Ponzi scheme was opening up and being exposed. At $32 billion, the resulting bankruptcy of the world’s second largest crypto exchange shook the markets as the FTX token, FTT, held by more than one million users, approached zero.
It is impossible to accurately quantify the amount of money lost from the cascading effects of FTT’s collapse, but Bankman-Fried had a hand in almost every corner of the crypto markets.
In the wake of the FTX collapse, Bankman-Fried was bailing out billions of dollars in other failed cryptocurrencies and giving tens of millions in alleged illegal contributions to Democratic political campaigns. And not only was Bankman-Fried illegally making billions running his own Alameda Research hedge fund, but an unknown hacker was robbing the FTX hot wallet – allegedly using FTX’s own software. – stolen by some estimates in excess of $600 million.
The day Bankman-Fried agreed to face questioning over the FTX debacle before the House Banking Committee, the notoriously politically charged US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) arrested and jailed her in the Bahamas. Was.
This is odd, because normally prosecutors preparing the indictment would be licking their chops at the prospect of a criminal defendant testifying under oath. The timing of his arrest prompted legal observers and parliamentarians to comment that powerful figures were conducting maneuvers to silence the SBF.
Those criticisms were reinforced when SDNY prosecutors demonstrated a bail demand of $250 million, which was, in effect, a signature bond with no hope of recovering anything near that amount if he fled.
Bankman-Fried was back at her parents’ home in Palo Alto for the holidays.
If there was a nexus between the historic collapse of FTX and the untimely death of four crypto billionaires in the fall of 2022, we may have to wait years for the test.
If Bankman-Fried agrees to a favorable plea deal, as other FTX and Alameda Research corporate officers have already done, those questions may never be asked, nor answered.