Struggling trading firm Alameda Research, sister company of crypto exchange FTX that appears to be suffering from a blockchain-era deposit run, withdrew some $37 million in the form of wrapped bitcoin (wBTC) – a type of bitcoin derivative – from the FTX.US crypto exchange on Wednesday.
It's unclear what the motive is for the token movements, and the amount is likely just a fraction of the firm's holdings; prior to the recent crypto markets crash, in June, its balance sheet included at least $14.6 billion of assets.
But the observation of the withdrawal – visible in transaction data on the Ethereum blockchain – offers a glimpse of a troubled company scrambling behind the scenes to arrange its finances. Crypto market analysts have speculated that the trading firm might be searching for liquidity while trying to satisfy demands from creditors.
Based on Ethereum blockchain data from the crypto intelligence platform Arkham Intelligence, a wallet associated with Alameda withdrew 2,262 wBTC in four separate transactions within minutes from crypto exchange FTX.US.
Later, it sent 3,000 wBTC tokens, worth of $50 million, to an address labeled as "Wrapped Bitcoin: Controller."
The trading volume on FTX.US for WBTC has been about $10,000 in the past 24 hours, meaning that there is no market depth on the exchange if someone would sell large amount of the token.
A spokesperson of FTX.US declined to comment. Alameda did not immediately respond to an inquiry.
FTX.US is a U.S.-based entity for American users, separate from the crypto exchange FTX but still part of the erstwhile billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried's crypto empire.
FTX halted user withdrawals on Tuesday after users rush to pull their cryptocurrencies out. The rival Binance exchange made a bailout offer to FTX, but now it is reportedly backing out of a deal, CoinDesk reported.
Alameda Research, a large market maker on FTX, is under immense pressure as it scrambles for liquidity. Its website went dark and has not communicated recently with the public.