FTX founder Sam Bankman Fried will agree to be extradited to the United States.
Jerone Roberts, the Bahamian lawyer representing Bankman-Fried, confirmed Monday afternoon that his client “has agreed to be voluntarily extradited to the United States of America.”
In a brief interview with a local journalist obtained by CNN, Roberts said the SBF’s next court appearance will be to complete the extradition process and is expected to happen this week – possibly on Tuesday.
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 eight counts of wire fraud and conspiracy charges, alleging he defrauded customers and investors in FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded in 2019.
In a series of media interviews since FTX filed for bankruptcy last month, Bankman-Fried has admitted management mistakes while denying he knowingly defrauded clients or investors.
Roberts told reporters Monday afternoon that there is a possibility that SBF could be extradited the same day as his next court appearance, and said the likelihood of SBF flying out of the Bahamas for the United States that day is very high.
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 United States.
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. No future court date was set during Monday’s hearing.
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, the Bahamian prison where Bankman-Fried has been held since her arrest last Monday, 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 2021 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.
During the hearing on Monday, the tension between Bankman-Fried’s lawyer and the prosecutor’s office in the Bahamas began to spill over.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, Jerone Roberts, told the court he had not been advised to speak to his client.
“Things are moving too soon and without my involvement,” Roberts said.
Bahamian prosecutors accused Roberts of using “sharp tactics.”
The magistrate hearing the case, Shaka Serville, eventually cleared the courtroom so Bankman-Fried could speak to her lawyers in private.
— CNN’s Jaide Timm-Garcia contributed to this report