The arrest of Sam Bankman-Fried on Monday scrambled plans on Capitol Hill for a long-scheduled hearing that was originally supposed to include testimony from the former chief executive of FTX. But lawmakers moved ahead with a hearing anyway on Tuesday and said they would continue to push for answers about the collapse of his company and his role in its downfall nevertheless.
Representative Maxine Waters, the California Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Financial Services, said in her opening remarks that “unfortunately, the timing of his arrest denies the public” the opportunity to get answers.
“Rest assured, this committee will not stop until we uncover the full truth behind the collapse of FTX,” Ms. Waters said.
Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, the top Republican on the committee, said that lawmakers had “an obligation to do everything in our power to ensure this never happens again.”
Lawmakers have long called for new regulations for crypto markets. Mr. Bankman-Fried testified before the House committee last year and was a key force in the industry pushing to influence regulations.
The lawmakers heard testimony from the new chief executive of the crypto exchange, John J. Ray III, a lawyer who took over the company last month.
In his opening statement, Mr. Ray blamed the collapse of FTX on “absolute concentration of control in the hands of a small group of grossly inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals who failed to implement virtually any of the systems or controls that are necessary for a company entrusted with other people’s money or assets.”
Gary Gensler, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is expected to be a big part of the conversation during the hearing, although he is not scheduled to testify. Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have criticized Mr. Gensler for his approach to cryptocurrency regulations and his insistence that current rules suffice to rein in the digital asset industry — if the industry chooses to follow them and register assets and exchanges with the S.E.C.
Mr. McHenry called Mr. Gensler out in his opening statement on the collapse of FTX, criticizing Mr. Gensler’s “regulation by enforcement” approach to cryptocurrency. Mr. McHenry said that he would call Mr. Gensler to testify before the committee when Republicans take over the House next year.
The S.E.C. on Tuesday morning charged Mr. Bankman-Fried with defrauding investors. “We allege that Sam Bankman-Fried built a house of cards on a foundation of deception while telling investors that it was one of the safest buildings in crypto,” Mr. Gensler said.
Mark Cohen, a lawyer for Mr. Bankman-Fried, said his client was “reviewing the charges with his legal team and considering all of his legal options.”