In the muggy Bahamas courtroom, Bankman-Fried fights incarceration

NASSAU, Dec 13 (Reuters) – Cordoned streets, a hot courtroom and numerous delays marked Sam Bankman-Fried’s first personal public appearance since the collapse of his crypto firm.

At the six-hour courtroom hearing in the Bahamas, Bankman-Fried, wearing a suit rather than his typical T-shirt attire, sought bail to contest his extradition to the United States. He was ultimately rejected and faces possible extradition to the United States.

It was a stunning fall from grace for the crypto boss, once valued at up to $26.5 billion by Forbes.

“I’m not waiving,” Bankman-Fried said when asked if he would try to waive his right to an extradition hearing.

It was a rare comment at a hearing largely recorded by attorneys discussing the trial. In another comment, Bankman-Fried described the night of his arrest as “hectic”.

There was great anticipation for the appearance of Bankman-Fried, who has conducted numerous media interviews since the collapse of his firm but has not been widely seen in public.

The day began with Bankman-Fried being ushered into the courthouse from the main entrance, with photographers and reporters thronging for a picture.

JoyAnn Ferguson-Pratt, Chief Magistrate of the Bahamas, provided witty asides that often got the courtroom laughing when she once quipped about the defense attorney’s interpretation of the law: “I wasn’t born yesterday.”

Ferguson-Pratt’s repeated forgetting of the defendant’s last name prompted laughter.

“Samuel,” she said before trailing off as the one-time crypto magnate reminded her of his name, “Bankman-Fried.”

People in the courtroom fanned themselves to cool off in the tropical heat as the sun shone through the windows.

The hearing was adjourned twice, once to consider the court’s jurisdiction over bail and again in the afternoon.

It also included a lengthy discussion of Bankman-Fried’s medications, which his attorney said were intended for conditions including depression, insomnia and attention deficit disorder.

At the start of the case, Bankman-Fried applied to have an Emsam patch, a patch applied to the skin used to treat depression in adults, changed. He asked to leave the courtroom briefly to take the medication.

Bankman-Fried admitted he had not taken his medication with him when he was arrested, which he attributed to a “hectic night”.

His parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, appeared at times frustrated by prosecutors’ arguments that he was a fugitive.

Bankman-Fried’s defense attorney pointed out that Bankman-Fried had spent weeks in the Bahamas after his business collapsed without attempting to leave the country.

At the end of the hearing, he kept his head down and hugged his parents. A van outside the courthouse was waiting to pick him up.

reporting from Jared Higgs in Nassau and Brian Ellsworth in Miami; Editing by Megan Davies, Noeleen Walder and Sam Holmes

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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