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Sam Bankman-Fried agrees to be extradited to the United States

Sam Bankman-Fried agrees to be extradited to the United States

Sam Bankman-Fried agrees to be extradited to the United States

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A court hearing in the Bahamas in which Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was to agree to his extradition to the United States ended in turmoil on Monday, Mr. Bankman-Fried being sent back to prison where he has been held for a week.

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A judge has ordered the crypto entrepreneur returned to Fox Hill prison in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, after one of the prosecutors reprimanded Mr Bankman-Fried’s local defense lawyer for not be ready to proceed.

Following his arrest in the Bahamas last week, Mr Bankman-Fried initially indicated he would challenge his extradition. But he changed his mind and was ready to return to the United States to face criminal charges, a person briefed on the matter said over the weekend.

Monday’s hearing in the Nassau Magistrate’s Court had been set up for Mr Bankman-Fried to tell authorities that he would ultimately not contest the extradition. But his local lawyer, Jerone Roberts, said he was “shocked” to see his client in court on Monday morning and asked for at least a 45-minute break to speak privately with Mr Bankman-Fried.

Mr. Roberts then said that Mr. Bankman-Fried wanted to read the indictment filed by federal prosecutors before making a decision on extradition.

The confusion in the courtroom is the latest twist in the criminal case resulting from the sudden implosion of FTX, once one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. FTX, which was based in the Bahamas, filed for bankruptcy on November 11. Within a month, federal prosecutors had filed criminal charges against Mr. Bankman-Fried, who also faces civil fraud charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Futures Commodity Commission.

It was unclear whether Mr Bankman-Fried would return to court this week to talk about his extradition. Mark Cohen, his attorney in New York who was hired to handle the federal prosecutions, was not present in the courtroom in the Bahamas.

Mr. Cohen did not return requests for comment.

Mr Bankman-Fried, 30, has been detained in the Bahamas since December 12, when he was arrested at his luxury apartment complex. Last week, federal prosecutors announced that a grand jury had indicted him on eight counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations.

He has been accused of using billions in customer deposits to fund a cryptocurrency trading company he controlled, make lavish real estate purchases, invest in other businesses and donate funds to politicians. Federal prosecutors and US regulators say he orchestrated a year-long scheme to defraud customers, investors and lenders.

At a bail hearing in the Bahamas last week, Mr Bankman-Fried said he would not waive his right to challenge the extradition. After being denied bail, he was moved from a police holding cell to the Caribbean island nation’s notorious Fox Hill prison, which has been widely criticized for its poor living conditions .

He was expected to reconsider his stance on extradition when he appeared Monday morning in Nassau Magistrates Court. But the debates were plunged into chaos.

‘Whatever lead led him here this morning, it didn’t implicate me,’ Mr Roberts told the judge in front of a crowded courtroom. The hearing was adjourned so that Mr. Roberts could speak privately with Mr. Bankman-Fried.

When the hearing resumed, the confusion continued. Mr Roberts said Mr Bankman-Fried wanted to make a decision on extradition but needed “a little more information”. He also said Mr Bankman-Fried needed time to speak with his lawyers in the United States.

A judicial officer indicated that Mr. Bankman-Fried would be returned to prison. “I definitely think it’s a wasted day,” said investigative judge Shaka Serville.

Outside the Bahamas courthouse, some people, including those who said they invested in cryptocurrency and did business with FTX, showed up to show their anger at Mr. Bankman-Fried.

Erin Gambrel, who flew to Nassau from Dallas to attend the hearing, was one of them. She said she shared offices with FTX earlier this year in the Bahamas, where she met Mr. Bankman-Fried.

Ms. Gambrel said she wanted to see him “leave for a long time”. She has not invested with FTX, but said some of her friends have.

“He ruined millions of lives,” she said. “He made my friends lose their life savings.”

A number of lawsuits seeking class action status have been filed against Mr. Bankman-Fried in the United States.

Tech

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