© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sam Bankman-Fried, who founded and led FTX until a liquidity crisis forced the crypto exchange to declare bankruptcy, is escorted out of the Magistrates Court building after being arrested arrested, in Nassau, Bahamas December 13, 2022. REUTERS/Dant
By Jared Higgs, Jack Queen and Jasper Ward
NASSAU (Reuters) -Sam Bankman-Fried has agreed to be extradited to the United States, where he faces fraud charges, according to an affidavit his attorney read on Wednesday at a trial in the Bahamas. .
It paved the way for the founder of crypto exchange FTX to fly to the United States as early as this afternoon.
Bankman-Fried decided to agree to extradition in part out of “a desire to resolve all relevant clients,” according to the December 20 affidavit.
Dressed in a suit, Bankman-Fried walked to the witness area at the courthouse, where he spoke clearly and steadily as he took the oath of office.
“Yes, I would like to waive my right to such formal extradition proceedings,” he told the judge.
His defense attorney told the judge his client “would love to leave.”
The hearing was adjourned following the statements.
Officials from the FBI and the US Marshals Service – which handles the transportation of individuals detained in the US – have arrived in the capital, Nassau, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday morning.
It is unclear when Bankman-Fried will leave the Caribbean nation for New York.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan last week accused the 30-year-old crypto mogul of stealing billions of dollars in FTX client assets to cover losses for his hedge fund, Alameda Research, in what the law says US attorney Damian Williams called it “one of the largest financial scams in America”. American History.”
Bankman-Fried was arrested on a U.S. extradition request last week in the Bahamas, where he lives and where FTX is headquartered. He initially said he would oppose the extradition, but Reuters and other agencies reported over the weekend that he would reverse that decision.
Bankman-Fried’s US-based defense attorney, Mark Cohen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. A spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment on Wednesday.
Bankman-Fried acknowledged risk management failures at FTX, but said he did not believe he was criminally responsible.
Wednesday’s hearing will follow a puzzling chain of events this week that left Bankman-Fried’s expected extradition status unclear.
On Monday, after it was reported he had agreed to be extradited, Bankman-Fried arrived in court in a black van marked “Repair” wearing a blue jacket and white shirt. – contrasts with the casual wear he is known for running FTX.
At the hearing, local defense attorney Jerone Roberts said he was not informed about the purpose of the proceedings. After a brief intermission, Roberts said his client had seen an affidavit outlining the charges against him, but wanted to see the full U.S. indictment against him before agreeing. extradition intent.
The proceedings were subsequently adjourned. They were expected to resume on Tuesday morning, but Bankman-Fried’s legal papers weren’t ready in time.
Bankman-Fried fueled the cryptocurrency boom to become a billionaire multiple times and was an influential US political donor, before the collapse of FTX wiped out his fortune and tarnished him. tarnish his reputation. The fall was fueled by a wave of customer withdrawals amid concerns about money mixing with Alameda.
The $32 billion exchange declared bankruptcy on November 11, and Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO the same day.
Since then, he has been held at the Bahamas Department of Corrections in Nassau, known as Fox Hill Prison. The US State Department in a 2021 report described conditions at the facility as “harsh”, citing overcrowding, rodent infestation and inmates relying on buckets to work. toilet.
The local government said conditions had improved.