Ex-FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried agrees to be extradited to U.S., sources say
Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX, has agreed to be extradited from the Bahamas to the U.S. to face charges related to the failed crypto exchange's collapse, according to a source familiar with the agreement confirmed to CBS News.
Bankman-Fried's lawyer, Jerone Roberts, told Eyewitness News Bahamas that Bankman-Fried will waive his right to an extradition hearing.
It wasn't immediately clear when Bankman-Fried would return to the U.S., but it could be as soon as Tuesday, the source told CBS News.
The agreement was first reported by The Washington Post.
Bankman-Fried was arrested last Monday in the Bahamas at the request of the U.S. government based on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy filed in the U.S.
A grand jury indictment charged Bankman-Fried with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud against lenders and customers, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and violations of campaign finance laws.
Bankman-Fried also faces separate charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC complaint alleges that Bankman-Fried diverted customer funds without customers' knowledge from FTX to Alameda Research, his private crypto fund, and used that money for "fraudulent" purposes, including real estate purchases and political donations.
The 30-year-old could potentially spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Bankman-Fried appeared Monday at a chaotic court hearing in the Bahamas that was stopped when his attorneys said it was premature for him to stand before the court.
The court appearance came just a week after Bankman-Fried's lawyers had initially said they planned to fight extradition. An extradition hearing had been scheduled for Feb. 8. A reversal could speed up the timetable for him to be sent to the U.S.
Bankman-Fried arrived at the courthouse in a black van marked Corrections, which was escorted by a SWAT vehicle and a police vehicle. Police quickly whisked him into an entrance at the back of the courthouse.
A handful of people who said they were either crypto enthusiasts or FTX customers came to the courthouse to witness the proceedings.
"We want him to feel the weight of what he's done," said Ben Armstrong, the founder of the BitBoy Crypto website. Armstrong said he'd come to the courthouse with a dozen people, some of whom had lost their money with FTX.
If he's brought to New York, Bankman-Fried will likely be held, at least temporarily, in a federal detention center in Brooklyn. Other famous prisoners at the Metropolitan Detention Center in recent years have included the sexually-abusive singer R. Kelly, pharmaceutical company executive Martin Shkrelli and socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted of helping the millionaire Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse children.
During her time at the MDC, which houses around 1,600 prisoners, Maxwell's lawyers repeatedly complained to a judge that it was unsanitary, plagued by cockroaches and rodents. In recent years, three guards there have been convicted of sexually abusing inmates. In 2019, a power failure left inmates shivering for a week in the dead of winter.
Once he's back in the U.S., Bankman-Fried's attorney will be able to request that he be released on bail. A separate judge in the Bahamas denied Bankman-Fried's request for bail last week on the grounds he was a flight risk.
Bankman-Fried's downfall, from crypto evangelist to pariah, occurred with stunning speed. FTX filed for bankruptcy protection on Nov. 11 when it ran out of money after the cryptocurrency equivalent of a bank run.
Before the bankruptcy, Bankman-Fried was considered by many in Washington and on Wall Street as a wunderkind of digital currencies, someone who could help take them mainstream, in part by working with policymakers to bring more oversight and trust to the industry.
Bankman-Fried had been worth tens of billions of dollars — at least on paper — and was able to attract celebrities like Tom Brady or former politicians like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton to his conferences at luxury resorts in the Bahamas. One prominent Silicon Valley firm, Sequoia Capital, invested hundreds of millions of dollars in FTX.
The new CEO of FTX, John Ray III, told a congressional committee on Tuesday that there was nothing sophisticated about what Bankman-Fried was up to.
"This is just old fashion embezzlement, taking money from others and using it for your own purposes," he said.
for more features.