Cryptocurrency tycoon Sam Bankman-Fried consents to extradition to US from The Bahamas | Science & Tech News
- December 21, 2022
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Sam Bankman-Fried has consented to be extradited to the US from The Bahamas.
The FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder’s lawyer read an affidavit to a court in Nassau on Wednesday, confirming his client was willing to be flown to New York.
As a result, the 30-year-old tycoon could be flown out as early as Wednesday afternoon local time to face an array of fraud charges.
Bankman-Fried decided to agree to extradition in part out of a “desire to make the relevant customers whole,” according to the affidavit, which is dated 20 December.
Dressed in a suit, Bankman-Fried took to the witness box and told the judge: “Yes, I do wish to waive my right to such formal extradition proceedings.”
His lawyer told the judge that his client was “anxious to leave”.
The hearing was adjourned after the statements.
Officials with the FBI and the United States Marshals Service – which handles transportation of individuals in US custody – have already arrived in the Bahamian capital according to a person familiar with the matter.
It is currently unclear when Bankman-Fried will depart The Bahamas for New York.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan last week charged the cryptocurrency mogul with stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer assets to plug losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research, in what US Attorney Damian Williams called “one of the biggest financial frauds in American history”.
Bankman-Fried was arrested on a US extradition request last week in The Bahamas, where he lives and FTX is based.
He initially said he would contest extradition, but it was reported over the weekend that he would reverse that decision.
Bankman-Fried has acknowledged risk-management failures at FTX but said he does not believe he has criminal liability.
His personal wealth is thought to have swelled to $20bn (£16.2bn) at the exchange’s peak, but has since reportedly shrunk to $100,000 (£83,000).
Wednesday’s hearing followed a confusing sequence of events this week that left the status of Bankman-Fried’s expected extradition unclear.
On Monday, following the news reports he had agreed to be extradited, Bankman-Fried arrived at the courthouse in a black van marked “Corrections” wearing a blue suit jacket and white shirt.
At the hearing, his local defence lawyer, Jerone Roberts, said he was not informed of the purpose of the proceedings.
After a brief recess, Mr Roberts said his client had seen an affidavit outlining the charges against him but wanted access to the full indictment before consenting to extradition.
The proceedings were then adjourned. They had been expected to resume on Tuesday morning, but Bankman-Fried’s legal papers were not filed in time.
Bankman-Fried rode a crypto boom to become a billionaire several times over and an influential US political donor, before FTX’s crash wiped out his wealth and tarnished his reputation.
The collapse was driven by a wave of customer withdrawals amid concerns over co-mingling of funds with Alameda.
The cryptoexchange declared bankruptcy on 11 November with Bankman-Fried stepping down as CEO the same day.