WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 08: CEO of FTX Sam Bankman-Fried testifies during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 8, 2021 in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on "Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sam Bankman-Fried extradition in doubt after confused court hearing in Bahamas

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Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX who has been charged with fraud, appeared in court in the Bahamas on Monday amid reports he would agree to be extradited to the U.S. However, that is now in doubt after a confused hearing that the judge called a waste of time and ordered him back to a Bahamian prison, according to a report from local outlet Eyewitness News Bahamas

See related article: US lawyers, Bahamas liquidators trade barbs over who rules FTX bankruptcy jurisdiction

Fast facts

  • Lawyers for Bankman-Fried had previously signaled their intention to resist extradition, but reports over the weekend suggested that Bankman-Fried had changed his mind and would accept a transfer to the U.S. He is being held in a Bahamas jail based on an indictment from Federal U.S. prosecutors.
  • However, the former FTX chief executive officer in court asked for a copy of his federal indictment in order to read it before agreeing to extradition, a maneuver that apparently surprised his legal counsel, according to Eyewitness News Bahamas.
  • A defense attorney told the court he was “shocked” that Bankman-Fried was even present in court and required a 10-minute break to speak privately with the defendant. 
  • The judge presiding over the case, Magistrate Judge Shaka Serville, reportedly called the hearing a waste of time and ordered the crypto entrepreneur be returned to his jail in the nation’s capital Nassau following the hearing.
  • The development may delay a U.S. federal prosecutor’s case against the 30-year-old entrepreneur for allegedly misleading lenders and investors, conspiring to launder money, and violating U.S. campaign finance laws. 
  • Eyewitness News Bahamas said the prosecutor Franklyn Williams, who represents the U.S. in the case, expressed frustration with the delay, saying Bankman-Fried had been expected to agree to the extradition.
  • After the hearing, the New York Times reported that Bankman-Fired has agreed to be extradited to the United States, citing one of his lawyers. 
  • U.S. prosecutors have called Bankman-Fried’s FTX one of the biggest financial frauds in American history, and he could face decades in prison if convicted. 

See related article: FTX seeks permission to sell Japan, Europe entities and Ledger

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