FACT CHECK: Viral Post Makes False Claims About Ukraine And FTX

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims Ukraine took aid from the U.S. and invested in FTX, which in turn was invested into Democratic campaigns.

Verdict: False

Ukraine partnered with FTX to process cryptocurrency donations. There is no evidence that Ukraine took aid from the U.S. to invest in FTX.

Fact Check:

FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange trading firm, filed for bankruptcy after it reported they were short of billions of dollars following a surge of withdrawal requests on its platform, according to The Associated Press. Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried resigned following revelations that potentially hundreds of millions of dollars went missing due to “unauthorized access” of the platform, the outlet reported.

The Facebook post claims Ukraine took military aid from the U.S. and gave it to FTX, who then proceeded to donate money to Democratic candidates. “UKRAINE “MILITARY AID” FROM USA – WAS INVESTED IN CRYPTO “FTX” BY UKRAINE,” the post’s caption reads. “Congress sends money to Ukraine, Ukraine invests in FTX, FTX donates money to Democrats.”

Ukraine did announce a partnership with FTX, Everstake and KUNA in March 2022 to process cryptocurrency donations into fiat currency, according to Coin Desk. It is also true that Bankman-Fried donated $40 million to Democrats in the 2022 midterms.

The Washington Post reported in March that Bankman-Fried donated a “large sum” to Ukraine. He also stated the platform gave all Ukrainian users $25 each at the start of the war, according to Insider(RELATED: Does This Photo Show A Gepard Tank Firing At The Sky In Ukraine?)

However, there is no evidence U.S. military aid was funded into the platform and then to Democrat candidates. Media outlets that have reported on these claims, such as Fox News, have not provided any evidence Ukraine was using U.S. aid money to invest in FTX.

The organizations involved in soliciting cryptocurrency donations denied the claim. Alex Bornyakov, the Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, tweeted that “Ukraine’s gov never invested any funds into FTX.”

A fundraising crypto foundation @_AidForUkraine used @FTX_Official to convert crypto donations into fiat in March,” Bornyakov tweeted in part. “Ukraine’s gov never invested any funds into FTX.”

Vlad Likhuta, the Head of Growth at Everstake, directed Check Your Fact to statements made by the company and its founder, Sergey Vasylchuk, about the claim.

Every time russia is defeated on the battlefield, it starts looking for another way to cover up its military failures in the media by spreading fake news based on made-up assumptions. This time, they decided to use the collapse of FTX to spin yet another tale about money laundering. It is obvious that Western support of Ukraine hurts russia as it leads to its losses on the battlefield. We know for a fact that every donation was spent for the benefit of Ukraine,” Vasylchuk said on a Twitter thread. 

Michael Chobanian, the founder of KUNA, told Check Your Fact in a Telegram voice message that the claim was “fake news.”

“It’s just absurd…It’s physically impossible to process, especially during war when the economy is not working because someone has to provide USDT for the cash and the OGC exchange that receive that amount of cash, they need to go and buy somewhere USDT again to sell it back to who is laundering, apparently,” Chobanian said.

(RELATED: Video Claims Ukraine ‘Disabled’ Two More Russian Gunboats)

Liliia Tulupenko, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation, said in an email the claim “that Ukraine invested in FTX and beyond is absolutely false news. Ukraine did not invest in FTX and beyond as claimed.”

“Aid For Ukraine raised over $60 million in crypto. $54M of the received donations were spent on the Ukrainian Armed Forces needs, the report can be tracked on https://aid-for-ukraine.io/. The remaining ≈$3M (at the current exchange rate) are not stored at FTX.,” Tulupenko said.

Aid for Ukraine did take FTX off the website, which was previously listed, according to archived screenshots from the Wayback Machine. The organization has two reports on how it spent donated money, including one published in July stating it spent money on public campaigns, rifle scopes, field rations helmets, body armor, among other items.

Mykhailo Fedorov, the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, tweeted Aug. 17 that the website had raised $54 million.

The U.S. has authorized around $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, though not all of that money goes directly to Ukraine. Part of the money, such as the $40 billion aid package authorized by Congress in May, goes to replenishing U.S. weapon stocks and providing funding for U.S. forces in Europe, according to CSIS. The United States has provided around $21 billion in security assistance since 2014, including $18.2 billion since Russia’s invasion in February, according to the Defense Department.

There are transparency and accountability measures for aid to Ukraine, according to the Hudson Institute. Congress has allocated around $14 million for Inspectors General of the Department of Defense, Department of State, and USAID.

“For the US to give funds to the Ukrainian government, like the $13.2 billion for the Economic Support Fund, the secretary of state and administrator of USAID have to jointly submit a report to the relevant congressional committees on the proposed uses of these funds. There are no ‘blank checks,'” Luke Coffey of the Hudson Institute wrote in an Oct. 20 blog post.

USAID and the Ukrainian government also signed a Sept. 2022 Memorandum of Understanding “to enhance transparency and accountability around the U.S. Government’s direct budget support funding,” according to a press release from USAID.

Check Your Fact reached out to FTX and USAID for comment and will update this article if responses are provided.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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