An ex-employee of Alameda Research has revealed that a trading blunder from the firm precipitated an astonishing 87% plunge in bitcoin’s (BTC) price on the Binance US exchange. This mishap, the insider disclosed, resulted in losses reaching the “order of tens of millions.”
An Alameda Trader’s ‘Fat Fingers’ Triggered a Flash Crash on Binance US in 2021
A past associate of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto trading entity, Alameda Research, has been candid about his experiences within the firm. Aditya Baradwaj, on August 23, recounted that during his engineering tenure at Alameda, he saw his “entire life savings stolen”, pointing fingers at Bankman-Fried. Baradwaj shared that in his 18 months at Alameda, his personal and professional trajectory shifted dramatically.
Fast forward to September 20, Baradwaj delved into an incident from October 21, 2021. On that day, bitcoin’s (BTC) valuation flash crashed by a staggering 87% on Binance US, only to rebound shortly after. He recounted that an Alameda employee mistakenly placed an erroneous order, describing it as a “slip of a finger.”
“The trader was trying to sell a block of BTC in response to news, and sent out the order via our manual trading system,” Baradwaj stated. “What they missed was the decimal point was off by a few spaces. Rather than selling BTC at the current market price, they sold it for pennies on the dollar.”
News outlets started picking up too. Binance US – which was the epicenter of the flash crash – released a statement claiming that it had been caused by one of their ‘institutional traders’ who had a ‘bug in their trading algorithm.’ I guess Caroline had made some phone calls.
This isn’t Alameda’s maiden public faux pas or CEO Caroline Ellison‘s. As recently as December 2022, a whistle-blower from FTX informed Bitcoin.com News about Ellison’s margin account sinking by $1.3 billion in May 2022.
During a conversation with Jen Wieczner from New York Magazine, Sam Bankman-Fried opened up about a particular margin position that became untenably large. He emphasized that the sheer size of Alameda’s margin meant it “was not going to be closable in a liquid way in order to make good on its obligations.”
What do you think about the ex-Alameda employee’s memory of the bad bitcoin trade? Share your thoughts and opinions about this subject in the comments section below.