Sam Bankman-Fried said yes to US extradition hours after informing judge he was not ready to agree

Sam Bankman-Fried has decided to agree to extradition to the United States to face fraud charges, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday, just hours after an attorney for the FTX founder said to a Bahamas judge that he was not ready to consent.

The face that paved the way for the age of 30 electronic money tycoon faces charges in New York over allegations he stole billions of dollars from FTX clients to cover losses at Alameda Research, his hedge fund, before the exchange suddenly collapsed in November.

It is unclear when Bankman-Fried will leave the Bahamas, where he was arrested on December 12 on a US extradition request. No other court date has been set at the conclusion of Monday’s hearing.

His US-based defense attorney, Mark Cohen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The United States Attorney’s office in Manhattan did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Bankman-Fried’s abrupt decision comes after a chaotic appearance Monday morning before Judge Shaka Serville at a court in the capital Nassau, following reports by Reuters and other agencies over the weekend that he decided to reverse his decision to oppose the extradition.

At the hearing, his local criminal defense attorney, Jerone Roberts, initially told Serville he did not know why Bankman-Fried was brought to court Monday morning.

After the break, attorneys said Bankman-Fried had seen an affidavit setting out the charges against him, but wanted to see the indictment filed against him last week in federal court. state in New York before agreeing to extradition.

Serville said at the hearing that he could not take any action on the Bankman-Fried extradition without the former billionaire’s consent.

Serville said: “I can only be moved by Mr. Bankman-Fried, and he has not moved me.

Bankman-Fried was given the opportunity to speak with his U.S. attorney by phone and was later returned to the Caribbean nation’s Fox Hill prison. A Reuters witness said he left court in a black van marked “Repair”, carrying a manila folder containing the papers.

Franklyn Williams – the Bahamas’ deputy director of legal affairs who represented the US in the Bankman-Fried extradition effort – called the day’s proceedings “incredible” and expressed disappointment because of delays.

Set the right customer

30 years old electronic money tycoon who fueled an explosion in the value of bitcoin and other digital assets to become a multi-billionaire and an influential political donor in the United States, until the collapse of FTX earlier this month 11 after the withdrawal wave. The exchange declared bankruptcy on November 11.

Bankman-Fried acknowledged risk management failures at FTX but said he did not believe he was criminally responsible.

During Monday’s hearing, Bankman-Fried wore a dark blue jacket and an unbuttoned white shirt – a departure from the casual attire he has worn in appearances. in public often in the United States and when operating FTX from a posh corner of Nassau.

He just said hello to Serville and confirmed that he would speak to his US adviser. At one point during the hearing, Bankman-Fried leaned back with his eyes closed and appeared to be awakened by a court official.

On December 13, the day after his arrest, Bankman-Fried was sent to a correctional facility in the Bahamas. A 2021 US State Department report on the facility said detainees faced rodents and a lack of toilets, though local authorities said conditions had improved since then. from that. At the December 13 hearing, he called the night of his arrest “busy”.

After Monday’s hearing, his criminal defense attorney in the Bahamas, Roberts, told the New York Times that his client had agreed to voluntary extradition and that he hoped Bankman-Fried would return. back to court this weekend.

“We as attorneys will prepare the necessary documents to trigger the trial,” the newspaper quoted Roberts as saying. “Mr Bankman-Fried wants to do the right thing for the customer, and that’s what prompted his decision.”

Roberts could not be immediately reached for comment.

Krystal Rolle, an attorney who has represented Bankman-Fried on non-criminal matters in the Bahamas, also confirmed comments Roberts made earlier to local broadcaster Eyewitness News Bahamas that Bankman-Fried would voluntarily waive the right to an extradition hearing.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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