Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced cryptocurrency executive, will soon be flown back to the United States to face fraud charges in federal court after telling a judge in the Bahamas on Wednesday that he had agreed to 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. After his arrival in New York, he will be charged in the federal district court in Manhattan, although the exact date of the trial is still unclear. The allegations stemmed from the collapse of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s giant crypto exchange FTX, which was based in the Bahamas until it filed for bankruptcy last month.
Mr. Bankman-Fried, 30, has been in custody in the Bahamas since he was arrested on Dec. 12. On Monday, he appeared before Magistrates Court in Nassau, the Bahamas capital, where he was expected to agree to extradition to the United States. But the hearing fell into disarray when a local attorney, who questioned Mr. Bankman-Fried, whether his client would pursue the extradition.
Late Monday, attorney Jerone Roberts turned around and announced at a hastily arranged press conference that Mr Bankman-Fried had agreed to the extradition after all. Mr. Bankman-Fried upheld that decision in court Wednesday after signing legal documents agreeing to his extradition to the United States.
He appeared in court in a white shirt and blue suit after having a breakfast of toast and jam at Fox Hill, the notorious Bahamian jail where he was being held, according to facility director Doan Cleare.
Mr. Roberts told the court that Mr. Bankman-Fried was “eager to leave” as early as Wednesday.
Once Mr. Bankman-Fried is extradited, and Mark Cohen, a lawyer in New York, is to take over his criminal defense.
Prior to extradition, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s legal team in the United States had negotiated a bail package with federal prosecutors. Under the conditions discussed, Mr. Bankman-Fried could be released on bail under very restrictive conditions including house arrest and electronic surveillance.
All bail must be approved by a federal judge.
The extradition is the latest episode in a legal drama that began in early November when a rush for deposits exposed an $8 billion hole in FTX’s accounts. Federal prosecutors have charged Mr. Bankman-Fried with defrauding customers, investors and lenders by diverting billions of customer funds to a crypto trading firm called Alameda Research, which was closely associated with FTX.
Since FTX’s inception in 2019, prosecutors and US regulators say Mr. Bankman-Fried has orchestrated a full-scale scam, using client funds to finance lavish property purchases in the Bahamas, investments in other businesses, political donations and a glamorous marketing campaign.
Mr. Bankman-Fried resigned as CEO of FTX when the company filed for bankruptcy in November. Less than a month later, he was indicted by a grand jury in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the investigation is continuing and additional charges are possible.
William K Rashbaum Spirit Benjamin Wiseer contributed reporting.