FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried agrees to be extradited to the US

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried agrees to be extradited to the US
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Nassau, Bahamas

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has agreed to be extradited to the United States, where federal prosecutors have accused him on eight counts of fraud and conspiracy.

Jerone Roberts, the attorney representing Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas, confirmed Monday afternoon that his client “has agreed to be voluntarily extradited to the United States of America.”

In an interview with a local reporter obtained by CNN, Roberts said Bankman-Fried’s next court appearance will be to complete the extradition process and is expected to happen this week, possibly Tuesday.

Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old former crypto celebrity, was arrested a week ago at her luxurious residence in the Bahamas. New York federal prosecutors charged with defrauding clients and investors at FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange she founded in 2019.

In a series of media interviews and tweets since FTX filed for bankruptcy last month, Bankman-Fried has admitted management errors and denied knowingly defrauding clients or investors.

Roberts told the reporter Monday afternoon that there is a possibility that 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 set clients right and that is what motivated his decision to be voluntarily extradited to the United States.”

Earlier on Monday, extradition proceedings Bankman-Fried appeared to be deadlocked, as his Bahamian lawyer and local prosecutors argued bitterly in court.

Prosecutors indicated that there was an agreement with Bankman-Fried’s American lawyers to allow his extradition to the United States to face federal charges. But Bankman-Fried’s Bahamian lawyer, Roberts, said he himself had not been a party to that deal.

Roberts stated that prosecutors would not share the US indictment with him, and that he should not have to “look it up on the internet”. In response, prosecutor Franklin Williams dismissed Roberts’ accusation, saying that he “couldn’t believe it.”

Bankman-Fried, who was wearing the same navy suit he wore last week when he was arrested, was expected to drop his extradition fight, overcoming a major hurdle to return him to US soil to stand trial on multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy.

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

The courtroom was packed during the hearing, mostly with US embassy officials and members of the crypto community who want Bankman-Fried to continue to be detained in the Bahamas for punishment, rather than 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.

His US legal team did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Earlier in the day, a representative for his lawyers declined to elaborate on the schedule, saying it was “difficult to give details while relying on the courts of the Bahamas.”

Bankman-Fried initially 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 maintaining what likely would have been a years-long battle to avoid extradition.

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

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

Bankman-Fried is expected to reapply for bail once he is in US custody. If he is denied bail, he would be held at a federal detention center in Brooklyn, New York. Inmates, lawyers and human rights advocates say conditions inside that facility, which mostly houses pretrial detainees who are presumed innocent, they are also inhumanciting overcrowding, frequent loss of heating and generally poor sanitary conditions.

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

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