FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried agrees to be extradited to the US
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried agreed to be extradited to the United States, where federal prosecutors have charged him with eight counts of fraud and conspiracy.
Jerone Roberts, the lawyer representing Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas, confirmed Monday afternoon that his client “has agreed to be voluntarily extradited to the United States.”
In an interview with a local journalist obtained by CNN, Roberts said Bankman-Fried’s next court appearance will be to complete the extradition process.
Bankman-Fried is expected to reappear in court Tuesday morning, according to a spokesman at the Fox Hill prison where he is being held in the Bahamas.
Nassau Magistrate Court opens at 9:30 a.m. ET, with the first hearings beginning at 10 a.m. ET. Bankman-Fried’s hearing is expected to be among the first of the day.
Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old former crypto celebrity, was arrested a week ago at his luxury residence in the Bahamas. Federal prosecutors in New York charged him with defrauding customers and investors in FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded in 2019.
In a series of media interviews and tweets since FTX filed for bankruptcy last month, Bankman-Fried has admitted mismanagement while denying he knowingly defrauded clients or investors.
Roberts told reporters Monday afternoon that there is a possibility Bankman-Fried, known as SBF, could be extradited the same day as his next court appearance.
Roberts wanted to emphasize that “Bankman-Fried wants to give justice to his clients and that is what has driven his decision to be voluntarily extradited to the United States.”
Earlier on Monday, extradition proceedings for Bankman-Fried appeared to have stalled as his Bahamian lawyer and local prosecutors argued bitterly in court.
Prosecutors indicated there had been an agreement with Bankman-Fried’s US lawyers to allow extradition to the US to face federal charges. But Bankman-Fried’s Bahamian lawyer, Roberts, said he himself had not been part of that deal.
Roberts claimed prosecutors would not share the US indictment with him and that he should not have to “fish on the internet” after it. In response, prosecutor Franklyn Williams dismissed Robert’s accusation, saying it was “not to be believed.”
Bankman-Fried – who was wearing the same navy suit he wore last week when he was arrested – was expected to drop the extradition fight, clearing a significant hurdle to returning him to US soil to face multiple charges of fraud and conspiracy.
But Monday’s hearing left observers in the dark about what happens next.
The courtroom was packed during the hearing, mostly with US embassy officials and members of the crypto community who want to see Bankman-Fried continue to be held in the Bahamas for punishment, rather than being sent to the US.
At the end of the hearing, the frustrated magistrate overseeing the case cleared the courtroom so Bankman-Fried could call her American lawyers with her Bahamian lawyer present.
Bankman-Fried was then returned to the Bahamian prison where he has been held for the past week.
His US legal team did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Earlier in the day, a representative for his lawyers declined to provide details on the timeline, saying it was “difficult to provide details while relying on the Bahamian courts.”
Bankman-Fried had originally planned to fight efforts to return him to the United States. But after a week in Nassau’s notorious Fox Hill prison, he seems less interested in sustaining what would likely be a year-long battle to avoid extradition.
The US State Department reported that conditions at Fox Hill are harsh. The report criticized the prison for its overcrowding, poor nutrition and inadequate sanitation and medical care. Overcrowded cells often lacked mattresses and were “infested with rats, maggots and insects,” according to the report.
Bankman-Fried is expected to ask for bail again once he is in US custody. If denied bail, he would be held in a federal detention center in Brooklyn, New York. Inmates, lawyers and human rights advocates say conditions inside this facility, which mostly houses pre-trial defendants presumed innocent, are also inhumane, citing overcrowding, frequent loss of heating and general poor sanitation.
— CNN’s Jaide Timm-Garcia contributed to this report