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FTX associates allegedly considered buying an entire Pacific island nation, lawsuit claims

Nauru is a sovereign nation in the Pacific Ocean that associates of failed crypto exchange FTX once considered purchasing. | Source: Getty Images

Eight months after Bay Area native Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange FTX declared bankruptcy, court filings claim that company associates may have had grandiose ambitions for riding out the apocalypse.

Details in a lawsuit filed in Delaware bankruptcy court allege that the company s had aspirations far beyond the blockchain. At one time, members of the FTX team were parties to a discussion on the possibility of purchasing the Pacific Island nation of Nauru, to use as a fortified apocalypse bunker and laboratory—one that could be used to repopulate the planet with a genetically modified species of elite human beings.

In July, Gabe Bankman-Fried, numerous outlets reported that Gabe Bankman-Fried worked as a lobbyist for FTX, although his legal team claims that was never the case.

“Gabriel Bankman-Fried did not create, endorse, contribute to, or draft a plan to acquire the island of Nauru," his lawyer, Michael Tremonte, said in a statement. "In truth, Gabe received by email a link to the memo, which he did not write or request, and did not forward to anyone else.”

According to the Guardian, associates of FTX discussed the purchaing the sovereign nation of Nauru in order to construct a ‘bunker/shelter’ that would be used for ‘some event where 50-99.99% of people die [to] ensure that most [effective altruists] survive’” the memo said, referring to the school of utilitarian thought that the Bankman-Fried family subscribes to.

The government of Nauru confirmed to CNBC that the country was never up for sale.

Independent since 1968, Nauru was briefly an affluent country, but the economy cratered once its plentiful phosphate deposits werestrip-mined to exhaustion. With a population of only 12,000—roughly on par with Emeryville—it later became a tax haven and housed an offshore detention facility for migrants attempting to reach Australia.

Affluent technologists appear drawn to Pacific islands. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison controls most of the Hawaiian island of Lanai and Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg owns a 1,500-acre estate on Kauai, while Paypal’s Peter Thiel and others have pursued citizenship in New Zealand, both for its natural beauty and as a potential soft landing spot in the event civilization were to implode.

The son of two prominent Stanford University professors, Sam Bankman-Fried briefly enjoyed a net worth of approximately $26 billion in late 2022. He became a major player in national Democratic Party circles, rubbing shoulders with celebrities from Tom Brady to Stephen Curry

The 31-year-old Palo Alto native was extradited from the Bahamas to New York last December. He later pleaded not guilty to charges of stealing depositors’ accounts in a complex scheme that propped up FTX’s associated trading firm, Alameda Research, and was later accused of paying $40 million in bribes to Chinese officials. If convicted, he faces up to 155 years in prison.

Correction: Language in this post has been updated to reflect that the statements referred to in the lawsuit are allegations, and that Gabe Bankman-Fried was not a lobbyist for FTX.

Astrid Kane can be reached at