Sam Bankman-Fried to be extradited to US

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Bahamas said in a statement that the foreign minister had signed off on allowing Bankman-Fried's extradition to the United States.

 Sam Bankman-Fried testifies during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2021. (photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Sam Bankman-Fried testifies during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2021.
(photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sam Bankman-Fried will be taken to an airport in The Bahamas on Wednesday evening, a person familiar with the matter said, after the FTX founder was taken to prison following a courthouse appearance where he consented to be extradited to the United States.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan last week charged the 30-year-old cryptocurrency mogul with stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer assets to plug losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research, in what US Attorney Damian Williams called "one of the biggest financial frauds in American history."

Bankman-Fried left the courthouse, surrounded by guards with assault weapons, and entered a vehicle, according to Reuters Video. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Bahamas said in a statement that the foreign minister had signed off on allowing Bankman-Fried's extradition to the United States.

Bankman-Fried was arrested on a US extradition request last week in The Bahamas, where he lives and where FTX is based. He initially said he would contest extradition, but Reuters and other outlets reported over the weekend that he would reverse that decision.

 Representations of cryptocurrencies are seen in front of displayed FTX logo and decreasing stock graph (credit: REUTERS) Representations of cryptocurrencies are seen in front of displayed FTX logo and decreasing stock graph (credit: REUTERS)

Bankman-Fried decided to agree to extradition in part out of a "desire to make the relevant customers whole," according to an affidavit read in court on Wednesday and dated Dec 20.

Dressed in a suit, Bankman-Fried stepped up to the witness box in court, where he spoke clearly and steadily as he was sworn in.

“Yes, I do wish to waive my right to such formal extradition proceedings," he told Judge Shaka Serville.

Bankman-Fried's defense lawyer, Jerone Roberts, said his client was "anxious to leave."

The judge said he was satisfied that all legal requirements for extradition had been met and that Bankman-Fried had not been “forced, coerced or threatened” into making the decision.

“I therefore formally commit you to custody while you await your extradition,” Serville said.

The hearing was adjourned after the statements.

During Wednesday's hearing, Bankman-Fried's lawyer, Roberts, requested that the “rule of speciality” be followed. This rule, which is in The Bahamas’ extradition treaty with the United States, says a person can be tried only on the charges for which they are extradited.

Bankman-Fried's US-based defense lawyer, Mark Cohen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Bankman-Fried has acknowledged risk-management failures at FTX, but has said he does not believe he has criminal liability.

SBF's rise and fall

Bankman-Fried rode a crypto boom to become a billionaire several times over and an influential US political donor, before FTX's crash wiped out his wealth and tarnished his reputation. The collapse was driven by a wave of customer withdrawals amid concerns over commingling of funds with Alameda.

  FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried poses for a picture, in an unspecified location, in this undated handout picture, obtained by Reuters on July 5, 2022. (credit: FTX/Handout via REUTERS) FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried poses for a picture, in an unspecified location, in this undated handout picture, obtained by Reuters on July 5, 2022. (credit: FTX/Handout via REUTERS)

The $32 billion exchange declared bankruptcy on Nov. 11, and Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO the same day.

He has since been detained 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 prisoners relying on buckets as toilets.

Local authorities say conditions have since improved.