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Did SBF really use FTX traders’ Bitcoin to keep BTC price under $20K?

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Bitcoin (BTC) failed to hit $100,000 during the 2021 bull market because defunct exchange FTX kept selling BTC, analysis claims.

In an X (formerly Twitter) post on Oct. 12, Joe Burnett, senior product marketing manager at Bitcoin financial services firm Unchained, joined voices arguing that FTX executives suppressed BTC price strength.

FTX testimony reveals mass BTC selling

As the trial of former FTX CEO Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried continues, new testimony paints a picture of potential market manipulation.

This week, Caroline Ellison, former CEO of affiliated firm Alameda Research, reportedly told the court that Bankman-Fried asked her to sell BTC should its spot price breach $20,000. This was done using FTX customer funds, which neither had the right to deploy. 

AUSA: What are these?

Ellison: Notes from a conversation with Sam. I wrote, keep selling BTC if its over $20K.

AUSA: You wrote, FTX may raise. What does that mean?

Ellison: Raise capital by selling equity, to get more money. To investors like MSB, the Saudi Prince

— Inner City Press (@innercitypress) October 11, 2023

Reacting, Burnett suggested that due to the scale of the operations involved, the entire Bitcoin bull run could have been adversely affected.

“Alameda was insolvent even during the bull market. It appears they used (or ‘borrowed’) FTX customer bitcoin and other customer assets to buy ‘Sam coins’ (FTT, Solana, and Serum),” he wrote, referring to reports that Ellison’s firm had a negative value of $2.7 billion in 2021.

“Without this fake sell pressure, maybe bitcoin would have hit $100,000 in 2021.”

SBF vs. S2F

During the bull run of 2021, BTC/USD still reached an all-time high of $69,000; but at the time, predictions called for much larger numbers.

Related: Sam Bankman-Fried blamed Binance for balance sheet leak to media: Court evidence

Among those was the then-popular Stock-to-Flow (S2F) Bitcoin price model, the creator of which — the pseudonymous entity known as PlanB — gave a BTC price target of up to $288,000 during the current halving cycle.

The “worst case scenario,” he continued, was $135,000 by December 2021.

Bitcoin is below $34K, triggered by Elon Musk’s energy FUD and China’s mining crack down.

There is also a more fundamental reason that we see weakness in June, and possibly July. My worst case scenario for 2021 (price/on-chain based): Aug>47K, Sep>43K, Oct>63K, Nov>98K, Dec>135K

— PlanB (@100trillionUSD) June 20, 2021

After Bitcoin failed to reach those levels, S2F and PlanB himself both saw considerable public criticism.

While PlanB continues to give optimistic outlooks on where Bitcoin is headed, the SBF debacle is fast becoming a source of amusement on social media.

I can’t stop thinking about an alternate timeline where

-SBF is president of the United States

-Bitcoin hits 100k

-FTX token flips BTC

-meat is illegal

-the US annexes the Bahamas

-all women above a 3 get deported

— Doge Cuban (@DogecoinCuban) October 11, 2023

Others disagree with Bankman-Fried’s motives. Responding to Ellison’s testimony, Blockstream CEO and co-founder Adam Back queried whether he genuinely sought to stifle market growth.

So that sounds to me more like SBF “need USD liquidity sell BTC, but don’t sell below $20k” and not “try to keep BTC under $20k. Ie below $20k is ridiculously cheap wait for higher.

— Adam Back (@adam3us) October 12, 2023

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

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