FTX founder Sam Bankman Fried will agree to be extradited to the United States.
Jerone Roberts, the Bahamian attorney representing Bankman-Fried, confirmed Monday afternoon that his client “has agreed to be voluntarily extradited to the United States of America.”
In a short interview with a local reporter obtained by CNN, Roberts said SBF’s next court appearance will be to complete the extradition process and is expected to be this week, possibly 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 have charged him with eight counts of wire fraud and conspiracy, 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 mismanagement while denying knowingly defrauding clients or investors.
Roberts told the reporter on Monday afternoon that there was a possibility that SBF could be extradited the same day of his next court appearance and said the likelihood of SBF leaving the Bahamas for the United States that day is very strong.
Roberts was keen to point out that “Bankman-Fried wants to put the clients’ situation right and that is what prompted his decision to be voluntarily extradited to the United States.”
Earlier Monday, extradition procedure for Bankman-Fried appeared to be at a standstill as his Bahamian lawyer and local prosecutors argued bitterly in court.
Prosecutors said 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 was not part of that deal.
Roberts said prosecutors won’t share the US indictment with him and he shouldn’t have to “fish the internet” for it. In response, prosecutor Franklyn Williams dismissed Roberts’ charge, saying it was “not to be believed.”
Bankman-Fried – who wore the same navy blue suit he wore last week when he was arrested – had to drop his extradition fight, clearing a significant hurdle to send him back to US soil to be prosecuted for multiple accusations 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 to 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 lawyers in the presence of his Bahamian lawyer.
Bankman-Fried was later returned to the Bahamas jail where he has been held for a week. No future court date was set at Monday’s hearing.
Its US legal team did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Earlier in the day, a representative for his lawyers declined to give details on the timing, saying it was “difficult to give details while relying on the courts of the Bahamas”.
Bankman-Fried originally planned to fight efforts to return him to the United States. But after a week in Nassau’s infamous Fox Hill prison, he seems less interested in continuing what would likely have been a years-long battle to avoid extradition.
The US State Department reported that conditions at Fox Hill, the Bahamas prison where Bankman-Fried has been held since his arrest last Monday, are harsh. The report criticized the prison for overcrowding, poor food and sanitation, and inadequate medical care. The overcrowded cells often lack mattresses and were “infested with rats, maggots and insects”, according to the 2021 report.
Bankman-Fried is expected to seek bail again once he is detained in the United States. If bail is denied, he would be held in a federal detention center in Brooklyn, New York. Detainees, lawyers and human rights defenders say conditions inside the facility, which mainly houses defendants awaiting trial who are presumed innocent, are also inhumanciting overcrowding, frequent loss of heating and poor sanitary conditions in general.
At Monday’s hearing, tensions between Bankman-Fried’s attorney and Bahamian government prosecutors began to boil over.
Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Jerone Roberts, told the court he was not told he could speak with his client.
“Things are moving prematurely and without any involvement on my part,” Roberts said.
Bahamian prosecutors accused Roberts of using “cutting tactics.”
The magistrate hearing the case, Shaka Serville, eventually cleared the courtroom so Bankman-Fried could speak with his lawyers in private.