Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced cryptocurrency executive, will soon be sent back to the United States to face fraud charges in federal court after he told a judge in the Bahamas on Wednesday that he agreed to his extradition.
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 he arrives in New York, he will be arraigned in federal district court in Manhattan, but the exact timing of the proceedings is unclear. The allegations stem from the collapse of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s major cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, which was based in the Bahamas until it went bankrupt last month.
Mr. Bankman-Fried, 30, has been held in the Bahamas since his Dec. 12 arrest at a luxury apartment complex. On Monday, he appeared in District Court in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, where he is expected to agree to extradition to the United States. But the hearing was thrown into disarray as local lawyers representing Mr Bankman-Fried doubted whether his client would proceed with extradition.
At the end of Monday, attorney Jerone Roberts reversed course, announcing in a hastily arranged news conference that Mr Bankman-Fried had finally agreed to be extradited. Mr Bankman-Fried confirmed the decision in court on Wednesday after signing legal documents agreeing to his extradition to the United States.
He showed up in a white shirt and blue suit after a breakfast of toast and jam at the notorious Bahamian prison Fox Hill, according to the facility’s superintendent, Doan Cleare.
Mr Roberts told the court Mr Bankman-Fried was “eager to leave” and could leave as early as Wednesday.
New York attorney Mark Cohen is expected to oversee Mr. Bankman-Fried’s criminal defense following his extradition.
Even before the extradition, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s legal team in the United States had been negotiating with federal prosecutors about a bail package. Under the terms discussed, Mr Bankman-Fried could be released on bail under very strict conditions, including home detention and electronic monitoring.
Any bail arrangements must be approved by a federal judge.
The extradition is the latest episode in a legal drama that began in early November, when a deposit run exposed an $8 billion hole in FTX accounts. Federal prosecutors charged Mr. Bankman-Fried with defrauding customers, investors and lenders by moving billions in client funds to a cryptocurrency trading firm closely related to FTX called Alameda Research.
Prosecutors and U.S. regulators say that since FTX was launched in 2019, Mr. Bankman-Fried orchestrated a massive fraudulent operation that used client funds to purchase substantial real estate in the Bahamas, invest in other companies, make political donations and conduct A glamorous marketing campaign.
When FTX filed for bankruptcy in November, Mr. Bankman-Fried resigned as FTX’s CEO. Less than a month later, he was indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be filed.
William K Rushbaum with Benjamin Weiser Contribution report.