NASSAU, Bahamas – Former FTX Chief Executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who faces fraud charges in the United States over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, is expected to appear in court in The Bahamas on Tuesday, December 20, a person familiar with the matter said.
Another person with knowledge of Bankman-Fried’s plans told Reuters he had decided not to fight extradition to New York, where federal prosecutors last week charged him with using stolen FTX customer funds to plug losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research.
Neither a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan nor Bankman-Fried’s US defense lawyer, Mark Cohen, immediately responded to requests for comment.
Bankman-Fried has acknowledged risk-management failures at FTX, but has said he does not believe he has criminal liability.
On Monday, Bankman-Fried appeared in court in capital Nassau after Reuters and other outlets reported over the weekend that he had decided to agree to extradition. But during the tumultuous hearing, a Bahamas lawyer for Bankman-Fried, Jerone Roberts, said his client was not yet ready to consent.
Roberts said Bankman-Fried had seen an affidavit outlining the US charges against him, but that he wanted to see the full indictment, which was unsealed in Manhattan federal court on December 12.
The 30-year-old cryptocurrency mogul was arrested last Monday in the Bahamas, where he lives and where FTX is based, under a US arrest warrant. He said at his initial court appearance on Tuesday that he would contest extradition while appealing a Bahamas magistrate’s decision to deny him bail.
He has since been detained at The Bahamas Department of Corrections in Nassau, formerly known as Fox Hill prison. The US State Department in a 2021 report described conditions at the facility as “harsh,” citing overcrowding, rodent infestation and prisoners relying on buckets as toilets.
Local authorities say conditions have since improved.
The arrest capped a stunning fall from grace for Bankman-Fried, who rode a boom in the values of bitcoin and other digital assets to become a billionaire several times over.
He has been under increasing scrutiny since a flurry of customer withdrawals from FTX amid concerns over commingling of their funds with Alameda. Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said last week Bankman-Fried’s actions amounted to “one of the biggest financial frauds in American history.”
The $32-billion exchange declared bankruptcy on November 11, and Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO the same day.
Upon arrival in the United States, Bankman-Fried would enter a plea in federal court within a day or two. A judge would then decide whether or not to grant him bail. – Rappler.com