ABC News, 19 December 2022 – Sam Bankman-Fried, who is facing charges in the U.S. following the collapse of his cryptocurrency company, FTX, is willing to waive his right to deny extradition to the U.S., a lawyer for the disgraced cryptocurrency executive said Monday after a chaotic court hearing that did not go according to plan.
The lawyer expected Bankman-Fried to return to court at some point this week to make the decision official, at which time he would be flown to New York to face federal charges.
Bankman-Fried, 30, was arrested last week in the Bahamas after federal prosecutors in New York filed an eight-count indictment including allegations of fraud and conspiracy.
At a court hearing last week, Bankman-Fried declined to waive his right to challenge extradition to the U.S. However, multiple sources familiar with the matter told ABC News ahead of Monday’s hearing that Bankman-Fried had reversed his position and was prepared to waive extradition, setting up a move to custody in the U.S.
At a court hearing on Monday, however, Bankman-Fried did not waive his right to deny extradition as expected, instead asking to see a copy of the U.S. indictment and speak to his New York-based attorney. A phone call, in the presence of his Bahamian counsel, was approved by the judge.
Ultimately, Bankman-Fried agreed to waive extradition and clear the path for his transport to the U.S. for prosecution.
Bankman-Fried has been held in the medical ward of the island’s Fox Hill prison, after an application for bail was denied when a judge determined he was too much of a flight risk.
A U.S. government plane is waiting to fly Bankman-Fried back from the Bahamas, where he lived in a $30 million penthouse while running FTX until it collapsed in a $32 billion bankruptcy in November.
In addition to the criminal charges, Bankman-Fried faces related civil lawsuits from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
There are more than $8 billion in customer losses, said Gretchen Lowe of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a federal agency.
Some crypto traders, who deposited their savings on the platform, fear they may never get their money back.
John Ray, the new CEO of FTX, who oversaw the dissolution of Enron, told members of the House last week that FTX lacked corporate controls to an extent he had never witnessed, characterizing the company’s conduct as “old-fashioned embezzlement.”
“I’ve never seen an utter lack of record keeping,” Ray said. “Absolutely no internal controls.”
Bankman-Fried, in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in November, denied knowing “there was any improper use of customer funds.”
“I really deeply wish that I had taken like a lot more responsibility for understanding what the details were of what was going on there,” Bankman-Fried told Stephanopoulos. “A lot of people got hurt, and that’s on me.”