Bahamas looks to turn page after cryptocurrency exchange FTX leaves people without jobs

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On a December evening within the Bahamas, Bishop Lawrence Rolle belts out the lyrics to his newest hit track for the a whole bunch of kids and adults gathered to have fun Christmas.

“FTX!,” he sings, bent over and shaking his head for emphasis. “The cash is gone!”

“FTX!,” his backup singer and viewers scream again. “The cash have achieved gone!”

The cryptocurrency change FTX was speculated to be the crown jewel of the Bahamian authorities’s push to be the worldwide vacation spot for all issues crypto, after years of getting an financial system that was overly reliant on tourism and banking.

Instead, FTX is bankrupt and Bahamians are attempting to determine what’s subsequent for his or her nation and whether or not their nationwide crypto experiment has failed.

Regulators are attempting to find FTX’s clients’ lacking cash.

In the meantime, charities similar to Bishop Rolle’s, plus dozens of contractors now out of labor, hope that one other firm will come alongside and convey new alternatives to the island nation, with out the issues and embarrassment of an alleged billion-dollar fraud.

Bishop Rolle — a Pentecostal preacher often known as the “singing bishop” — is a outstanding determine within the Bahamas.

For many years, he has cooked and donated meals to the poor and supplied faculty lunches from his neighbourhood kitchen at Worldwide Deliverance Praying Ministry in Over-The-Hill, one of the vital impoverished elements of the capital of Nassau.

Bishop Rolle and his employees feed roughly 2,500 folks per week.

He was invited to a faculty to sing as a part of its Christmas celebration.

Bishop Lawrence Rolle on stage wearing a dark blue suit and holding a microphone.
Bishop Lawrence Rolle performs at a Christmas live performance at Mt Carmel Preparatory Academy in Nassau. (AP Photograph: Ken Candy)

His act consisted principally of a half dozen Afro-Caribbean gospel songs, however one quantity stood out: his social media hit concerning the current collapse of FTX.

Bishop Rolle’s ministry acquired $US50,000 ($73,000) from FTX in early 2022, certainly one of a number of donations FTX made to the Bahamian folks after it relocated to the island nation in 2021.

He mentioned the cash was used to revive a meals storage trailer and make extra meals donations.

Bishop Lawrence Rolle stands between two shelves with his back to the camera.
Bishop Lawrence Rolle seems to be over toys and provides in his trailer, which he restored with the donation from FTX. (AP Photograph: Ken Candy)

The bishop described FTX’s failure as a tragic distraction from the various points going through the nation.

Others are indignant, significantly with FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

FTX’s downfall ‘irritating’

The Bahamas had a repute, like another Caribbean isles, as a vacation spot for illicit and offshore finance.

There was a perception that crypto would enable the island to diversify its financial system, create extra monetary alternatives and assist present a more-prosperous future.

A man in a suit is escorted by police from a courthouse.
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (centre) is escorted out of court docket in Nassau. (AP Photograph: Rebecca Blackwell)

The Bahamas enacted the Digital Property and Registered Exchanges Act in 2020, making it one of many first international locations to place collectively a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and different digital property.

Its prime minister, Philip Davis, participated within the groundbreaking ceremony for FTX’s new, $US60 million headquarters in Nassau in April, together with Mr Bankman-Fried.

“Their arrival was form of the end result of the work the Bahamians did to maneuver on this path,” Caribbean Blockchain Affiliation chief government Stefen Deleveaux mentioned.

A number of different crypto firms and startups are headquartered within the Bahamas, a few of them at an incubator often known as Crypto Isle, not removed from downtown Nassau.

Mr Deleveaux mentioned he turned concerned about crypto as early as 2014, and principally has been making an attempt to focus his organisation’s efforts on blockchain know-how, monetary inclusion and technological makes use of.

He stays skeptical about cryptocurrency buying and selling.

“It is irritating. Now when folks take into consideration crypto, they’re going to consider FTX,” Mr Deleveaux mentioned.

“That is going to make my very own job a lot tougher.”

In some methods, FTX was each ubiquitous and faraway from the local people, Bahamians have mentioned.

Its advertisements have been in every single place, most notably on the Nassau Airport, within the corridor for vacationer arrivals.


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