Sam Bankman-Fried appeared in the Bahamas Magistrates’ Court on Monday as his lawyers said he would agree to extradition to the United States to face fraud charges related to the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
The FTX founder was arrested in Nassau last week and had resisted extradition to New York after being charged in Manhattan with fraud and money laundering.
Bankman-Fried was widely expected to reverse his decision and accept extradition in court Monday, but the move was delayed after his local attorney, Jerone Roberts, told the court he was unaware of the decision. Magistrate Shaka Serville twice adjourned the case to allow Bankman-Fried to consult with his attorneys and call his US attorneys, local news reported.
According to Reuters, Bankman-Fried left the courthouse around 1 p.m. local time without agreeing to be extradited to the United States. However, two of his attorneys later told local media that Bankman-Fried would agree to voluntary extradition. A person with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed Bankman-Fried’s intentions.
Roberts told local media he hopes Bankman-Fried can return to court later this week to formalize his decision to end the extradition fight.
Bankman-Fried arrived at the Nassau Courthouse just after 10 a.m. local time Monday and drove out of the jail where he was being held in a black police car under heavy guard. The charges filed against him in the Southern District of New York last week allege he orchestrated “one of the largest financial frauds in American history.”
He has denied wrongdoing.
A court in the Bahamas denied bail to Bankman-Fried last week, saying there was a risk he would try to escape. The 30-year-old has since been held at Fox Hill Prison in Nassau. The facility has been criticized in international reports for overcrowding and a lack of sanitation.
After extradition, Bankman-Fried would have a new opportunity to be released on bail in the United States. He also faces civil lawsuits from the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission alleging that he deceived investors and funneled client funds entrusted to the FTX exchange to his private trading firm, Alameda Research.
According to legal experts, Bankman-Fried faces a maximum sentence of more than 100 years in prison if convicted.
FTX, once valued at $32 billion by blue-chip investors including Sequoia Capital and BlackRock, collapsed under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware in November after it failed to meet a spate of customer calls to withdraw their funds. According to bankruptcy filings, the company may have more than 1 million creditors.
Bankman-Fried had lived in Nassau in a $30 million penthouse in the luxurious Albany complex since FTX relocated to the Bahamas from Hong Kong late last year after the Caribbean nation established a bespoke regulatory regime for digital assets.