FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried agrees to extradition to the United States


Nassau, Bahamas
CNN

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried agreed to extradition to the United States, where federal prosecutors have charged him with eight counts of fraud and conspiracy.

Jerone Roberts, the attorney representing Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas, confirmed Monday afternoon that his client “has consented to his voluntary extradition to the United States of America.”

In an interview with a local journalist obtained by CNN, Roberts said Bankman-Fried’s next court appearance will conclude extradition proceedings and is expected to take place this week — possibly Tuesday.

Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old former crypto celebrity, was arrested at his luxury residence in the Bahamas a week ago. Federal prosecutors in New York are accused of defrauding customers and investors of 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 acknowledged management errors and denied knowingly defrauding customers or investors.

Roberts told the journalist Monday afternoon there was 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 put customers right and that was the reason for his decision to voluntarily extradite to the United States.”

Earlier Monday, Bankman-Fried’s extradition proceedings appeared to have stalled as his Bahamian attorney and local prosecutors argued bitterly in court.

Prosecutors said there was an agreement with Bankman-Fried’s US attorneys to allow his extradition to the United States to face federal charges. But Bankman-Fried’s Bahamian attorney, Roberts, said he himself was not a part of that arrangement.

Roberts claimed prosecutors wouldn’t share the US indictment with him and he shouldn’t have to search the internet for it. In response, prosecutor Franklyn Williams dismissed Roberts’ allegation, saying it was “unbelievable.”

Bankman-Fried – who was wearing the same navy blue suit he wore when he was arrested last week – was due to drop his extradition fight and clear a significant hurdle to bring him back to US soil to face criminal charges on multiple fraud and conspiracy charges.

But Monday’s hearing left observers in the dark about what happens next.

The courtroom was packed during the hearing, mostly with U.S. 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 judge overseeing the case cleared the courtroom so Bankman-Fried could call his US attorneys in the presence of his Bahamian attorney.

Bankman-Fried was then returned to the Bahamian prison, where he has been held for a week.

His US legal team did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A representative for his lawyers declined to give details of the timeline earlier in the day, saying it is “difficult to give details while relying on the Bahamian courts.”

Bankman-Fried originally planned to fight efforts to bring him back to the United States. But after a week in Nassau’s notorious Fox Hill prison, he seems less keen on continuing what will likely take years to avoid extradition.

Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, is escorted to the Magistrates Court building in Nassau, Bahamas, on December 19, 2022.

The US State Department reported that conditions at Fox Hill were harsh. The report criticized the prison for overcrowding, poor nutrition and inadequate sanitation and medical care. Overcrowded cells often lack mattresses and were “infested with rats, maggots and insects,” according to the report.

Bankman-Fried is expected to seek bail again once in US custody. If he was denied bail, he would be held in a federal prison in Brooklyn, New York. Inmates, lawyers and human rights activists say conditions at the facility, which mainly houses suspected innocent suspects, are also inhumane, citing overcrowding, frequent heating failures and overall poor sanitation conditions.

– CNN’s Jaide Timm-Garcia contributed to this report

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