In the months before to the demise of the crypto exchange, disgraced FTX chief Sam Bankman-Fried had brought his doctor on board the struggling business to act as a coach for the stressed-out staff.
Early last year, the 30-year-old recruited his psychiatrist, Dr. George Lerner, to join the cryptocurrency exchange and made the announcement of his employment at a meeting of the whole business.
They were instructed to talk to Lerner, 46, about any employment difficulties. He soon had 20 people visiting his private practice and was coaching close to one-third of the staff of the organization.
He refuted that all of the staff used amphetamines to get through the long, arduous hours they worked at the failed crypto exchange and instead characterized the atmosphere as being “undersexed.”
Despite being cleared of all charges, Lerner is already working to reestablish his solo practice in an effort to separate himself from the disgraced business.
In 2004, Lerner graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston with a medical degree. He then finished his residency at the University of California San Francisco, which has a well regarded psychiatric school.
After that, he established his own psychiatric clinic in Union Square in San Francisco, where he saw clients from the IT, cryptocurrency, and venture capital industries. His areas of expertise were the treatment of anxiety, depression, and ADHD.
According to a representative for Dr. Lerner, Bankman-Fried was one of his patients and has been getting therapy from him for ADHD and depression ever since she began visiting him in 2019.
According to Lerner, Bankman-Fried had certain anxious tendencies, such as quickly tapping his feet, that he would attempt to quiet down with video games. Bankman-Fried has been candid about his use of focus-enhancing pharmaceuticals.
He claimed to have also given a fidget spinner to Bankman-Fried.
The New York Times previously reported that Lerner relocated to the Bahamas in June to work as FTX’s in-house coach, providing his coaching skills to the youthful FTX workers 32 hours a week while also maintaining a small practice on the side.
He provided mentoring to roughly 100 of the 300 workers at the crypto exchange situated in the Bahamas, 20 to 40 of whom he met on a semi-regular basis, he told the Wall Street Journal.
In addition, he treated roughly 20 FTX workers in his own practice.
He said that improving the workplace sustainability was his primary objective at the cryptocurrency exchange.
According to Lerner, who spoke to the Journal, “They were fantastic individuals – ambitious, smart, and trying to have a good influence on the world.”
However, he acknowledged that “conflict resolution was the trickiest,” since the most of his prior work had included working with people.
The employment of Lerner was lauded by several former workers as evidence of the organization’s forward-thinking stance on mental health.
Others, however, said that they were so concerned about Dr. Lerner’s association with SBF that they refrained from sharing too much during their coaching sessions.
However, Lerner says that he strictly maintained the confidentiality of his coaching exchanges and took care to keep his medical business distinct from his position as an FTX coach.
For instance, everybody who visited him was had to sign a paper saying that he was their coach rather than their psychiatrist.
Additionally, former workers who sought counseling from Dr. Lerner claim that he made it apparent that he couldn’t provide them drugs like Adderall to address ADHD or Xanax to alleviate anxiety.
He would then go back to California and attend to his patients who lived in San Francisco.
According to the Bahamas Medical Database, Lerner is not a licensed doctor there. But according to California’s medical board, as long as the patient is in California, physicians are permitted to treat patients through telehealth “from anywhere in the globe.”
The FTX culture has previously been referred to by Lerner as being “tame,” telling the New York Times that staff members spend the majority of their days at work.
He said that he was concerned about their social life and had been concentrating on assisting the workers go on dates.
The Journal quoted Lerner as saying, “I was quite worried that people’s enjoyment would be decreased by lack of dating prospects outside of a large metropolis, or that they might feel obliged to leave the firm owing to this.”
He said that he had attempted to plan mixers with other businesses in the Bahamas, but nobody showed up because they were too busy.
The psychiatrist said that when the cryptocurrency market crashed during the spring and summer, tensions at the exchange increased. He attributed this to the fact that many workers had personal crypto investments that were losing value and were concerned about the company’s financial stability.
Unbeknownst to him, FTX started utilizing client cash about the same time to pay back debts taken out by Alameda Research.
However, Lerner said he had no reason to suspect a problem, adding: “The topics we usually discussed were: “Are the workers content? How can we keep them satisfied? What is the best, most efficient approach to set up the organization? “‘
According to Lerner, the 30-year-old former millionaire, “I never dealt with the product, and he never spoke to me about the product.”
After the cryptocurrency exchange failed in November, Lerner stayed on to provide advice to others still there, including senior staff members who were fighting to keep FTX viable.
According to the Journal, when certain depressed workers seemed to be at danger of suicide, Lerner coordinated care for them by pressing them to go back outdoors or asking others to keep a close check on them.
Additionally, he assisted several workers in planning their vacation so they could leave the Bahamas and get psychiatric assistance back home.
He said that “many were distraught.” “They had lost their FTX family,” was said.
He informed the Journal that his current priority is reestablishing his San Francisco practice, although his website has been simplified to merely provide a few contact details.
Meanwhile, in its efforts to reclaim FTX assets, the new management of FTX sought a court late last month to authorise subpoenas to get a thorough analysis of internal correspondence, including those between SBF and Lerner.
He acknowledged that he wasn’t a lawyer in an email to the Journal and noted that the request was “probably quite common for a bankruptcy case.”
There are eight charges of fraud and conspiracy against Bankman-Fried.
He has entered a not guilty plea to charges that he spent FTX clients’ money improperly.
On November 11, FTX declared bankruptcy after struggling to secure enough capital to avoid going down.
The disaster revealed a $8 billion accounting gap at FTX.
Investors, including former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci and football player Tom Brady, were left trying to recover their investment money.
Bankman-Fried was sensationally detained in the Bahamas by US authorities in December, and then deported back to the US.
He is charged with scamming investors and using FTX customers’ money to transfer billions of dollars to his hedge fund, which he subsequently used as a piggy bank to pay for his opulent lifestyle, individual investments, and political contributions.
He might get a life sentence if convicted on all counts.
»Sam Bankman-psychiatrist Fried’s confided in disastrous crypto exchange«
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