Sam Bankman-Fried is about to be extradited to the United States
Disgraced cryptocurrency executive Sam Bankman-Fried will soon be sent back to the United States to face fraud charges in federal court after telling a Bahamian judge on Wednesday that he had agreed to be extradited.
Mr. Bankman-Fried could arrive in New York as early as Wednesday afternoon to face charges of wire fraud, securities fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations. Once in New York, he will be arraigned in federal district court in Manhattan, although the exact timing of the proceedings remains unclear. The charges stemmed from the collapse of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange, FTX, which was based in the Bahamas until its bankruptcy last month.
Mr Bankman-Fried, 30, has been detained in the Bahamas since his arrest at his luxury apartment complex on December 12. In the magistrates’ court on Wednesday, he confirmed that he had signed documents authorizing the extradition. His lawyer, Jerone Roberts, said Mr Bankman-Fried was “eager to leave” the Bahamas and hoped to travel as early as Wednesday.
In court, Mr Bankman-Fried told the investigating judge, Shaka Serville, that he was “fine”. When asked if he was in good health, Mr Bankman-Fried replied: ‘Yes’.
Mr. Bankman-Fried wore a white shirt and blue suit, with a plastic bag in his lap; he arrived after a breakfast of toast and jam at Fox Hill, the infamous Bahamian prison where he was held last week, according to the facility’s chief administrator, Doan Cleare.
What to know about the collapse of FTX
What is FTX?FTX is a now bankrupt company that used to be one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. It allowed customers to exchange digital currencies for other digital currencies or traditional money; it also had a native cryptocurrency known as FTT. The Bahamas-based company has built its business on risky business options that are not legal in the United States.
Once Mr. Bankman-Fried is extradited, Mark Cohen, a lawyer in New York, is expected to oversee his criminal defense.
Even before the extradition, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s legal team in the United States had negotiated a possible bond with federal prosecutors. Under the terms that were discussed, Mr. Bankman-Fried could be released on bail with very restrictive conditions, including house arrest and electronic monitoring.
Any bail agreement must be approved by a federal judge.
Mr Bankman-Fried’s extradition to the United States will mark the end of an unusual week of legal maneuvering in the Bahamas.
On Monday, Mr. Bankman-Fried appeared in the magistrates’ court, where he had to consent to his extradition to the United States. But the hearing turned into chaos as Mr Roberts questioned his client’s willingness to make the transfer voluntarily.
By late Monday, however, Mr Roberts had reversed himself, announcing at a hastily arranged press conference that Mr Bankman-Fried had finally agreed to be extradited.
The consequences of the fall of FTX
The sudden collapse of the crypto exchange left the industry stunned.
The extradition back-and-forth was a new twist in a legal drama that began in early November, when a filing run exposed an $8 billion hole in FTX’s accounts. Federal prosecutors charged Mr. Bankman-Fried with defrauding clients, investors and lenders by diverting billions of client funds to a crypto-trading firm called Alameda Research, which was closely tied to FTX.
Since FTX’s inception in 2019, according to US prosecutors and regulators, Mr. Bankman-Fried has orchestrated massive fraud, using client money to fund lavish Bahamian real estate purchases, investments in other companies, political contributions and a glamorous marketing campaign.
Mr Bankman-Fried resigned as chief executive of FTX when the company filed for bankruptcy in November. He was indicted less than a month later by a grand jury in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the investigation is continuing and additional charges are possible.
Mr Williams is expected to hold a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to discuss Mr Bankman-Fried’s case.
William K. Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser contributed report.
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