Sam Bankman-Fred appeared in Bahamas Magistrates Court on Monday where his lawyers said he would agree to extradite him to the United States to face fraud charges related to the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange.
Bankman-Fried was widely expected to reverse his decision and accept extradition in court on Monday, but the move was delayed after his local attorney, Jeron Roberts, told the court he was unaware of the decision. Judge Shaka Cervel has twice postponed the proceedings to allow Pinkman-Fried to consult with his attorney and contact his US attorneys, local news reported.
Bankman Fried left the courtroom around 1 p.m. local time without agreeing to be sent to the United States, according to Reuters. However, two of his attorneys later told local media that Bankman-Fried would agree to voluntary extradition. Someone with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed Bankman-Fried’s intentions.
Roberts told local media he hoped Bankman Fried would return to court later this week to formalize his decision to end the extradition battle.
Bankman-Fried arrived at the Nassau courthouse just after 10 a.m. local time Monday, pulled up in a black police van under maximum security from the jail where he was being held. Charges filed against him last week in the Southern District of New York allege that he orchestrated “one of the The biggest financial fraud in American history”.
He has denied any wrongdoing.
A court in the Bahamas last week denied Bankman-Fried bail, saying there was a risk he would try to flee. The 30-year-old has since been held at Fox Hill Prison in Nassau. The facility has been criticized in international reports for its overcrowding and lack of sanitation.
Bankman-Fried will have a new opportunity to seek bail in the US after his extradition. He also faces civil charges from the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which allege he misled investors and diverted client funds entrusted to the FTX exchange to his own trading firm, Alameda Research.
If convicted, Bankman-Fried could face a maximum sentence of more than 100 years in prison, according to legal experts.
FTX, once valued at $32 billion by high-profile investors including Sequoia Capital and BlackRock, collapsed in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware in November after being unable to handle a wave of client requests to withdraw their funds. A company may have more than 1 million creditors, according to bankruptcy filings.
Bankman-Fried has lived in Nassau, in a $30 million penthouse in the luxury Albany complex, since FTX moved to the Bahamas from Hong Kong late last year after the Caribbean nation put in place a dedicated regulatory regime for digital assets.
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