FTX founder Sam Bankman Fried will agree to being extradited to the United States.
Jerone Roberts, the Bahamian attorney representing Bankman-Fried, confirmed on Monday afternoon that his client “has agreed to be voluntarily extradited to the United States of America.”
In a short interview with a local journalist obtained by CNN, Roberts said SBF’s next court appearance will be to complete the extradition process and is expected to happen this week — possibly on Tuesday.
Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old former crypto celebrity, was arrested a week ago at his luxury residence in the Bahamas. Federal prosecutors in New York charged him with eight counts of wire fraud and conspiracy charges, alleging he defrauded customers and investors in FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded in 2019.
In a series of media interviews since FTX filed for bankruptcy last month, Bankman-Fried has admitted to managerial mistakes while denying that he knowingly defrauded customers or investors.
Roberts told the journalist on Monday afternoon that there’s a possibility SBF could be extradited the very same day as his next court appearance and said the likelihood of SBF flying out of the Bahamas for the United States on that day is very strong.
Roberts wanted to emphasize that “Bankman-Fried wishes to put the customers right and that is what has driven his decision to be voluntarily extradited to the United States.”
Earlier on Monday, extradition proceedings for Bankman-Fried appeared to be stalled as his Bahamian attorney and local prosecutors argued bitterly in court.
Prosecutors indicated there had been an agreement with Bankman-Fried’s US attorneys to allow his extradition to the United States to face federal charges. But Bankman-Fried’s Bahamian attorney, Roberts, said he himself had not been part of that agreement.
Roberts claimed prosecutors wouldn’t share the US indictment with him, and he shouldn’t have to “fish on the internet” for it. In response, prosecutor Franklyn Williams dismissed Roberts’ accusation, saying that it was “not to be believed.”
Bankman-Fried — who wore the same navy-blue suit he wore last week when he was arrested — was expected to drop his extradition fight, clearing a significant hurdle to return him to US soil to be prosecuted on multiple charges of fraud and conspiracy.
But Monday’s hearing left observers in the dark about what happens next.
The courtroom was packed during the hearing, mostly with US Embassy officials and members of the “crypto community” who want to see Bankman-Fried continue to be held in the Bahamas for punishment, rather than be sent to the United States.
At the end of the hearing, the frustrated magistrate overseeing the case cleared the courtroom so that Bankman-Fried could call his US attorneys with his Bahamian attorney present.
Bankman-Fried was then returned to the Bahamian prison where he has been held for the past week. No future court date was set at Monday’s hearing.
His US legal team did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Earlier in the day, a representative for his lawyers declined to give specifics about the timeline, saying it was “tough to give specifics while relying on the Bahamian courts.”
Bankman-Fried had initially planned to fight efforts to return him to the United States. But after a week in Nassau’s notorious Fox Hill prison, he appears less interested in keeping up what would have likely been a years-long battle to avoid extradition.
The US State Department reported that conditions at Fox Hill, the Bahamian prison where Bankman-Fried has stayed since his arrest last Monday, are harsh. The report criticized the prison for its overcrowding, poor nutrition and inadequate sanitation and medical care. Crowded cells often lack mattresses and were “infested with rats, maggots, and insects,” according to the 2021 report.
Bankman-Fried is expected to again request bail once he is in US custody. If denied bail, he would be held at a federal detention center in Brooklyn, New York. Inmates, lawyers and human rights advocates say the conditions inside that facility, which mostly houses pre-trial defendants who are presumed innocent, are also inhumane, citing overcrowding, frequent loss of heating and poor sanitary conditions overall.
At the Monday hearing, tensions between Bankman-Fried’s lawyer and Bahamian government prosecutors began to spill over.
Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Jerone Roberts, told the court he had not been advised able to speak with his client.
“Things are moving prematurely and without any involvement from me,” Roberts said.
Bahamian prosecutors accused Roberts of using “sharp tactics.”
The magistrate hearing the case, Shaka Serville, finally cleared the courtroom so Bankman-Fried could speak with his attorneys in private.