FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has agreed to be extradited to the United States, where federal prosecutors have charged him with eight counts of wire fraud and conspiracy.
Bankman-Fried’s representative in the Bahamas, Jeron Roberts, confirmed Monday afternoon that his client “has agreed to be extradited voluntarily to the United States of America.”
In an interview with a local reporter obtained by CNN, Roberts said Bankman-Fried’s next court appearance will be to finalize the extradition process and is expected to take place this week, possibly as early as Tuesday.
Bankman-Fried, 30, a 30-year-old former crypto celebrity, was arrested a week ago at his luxury residence in the Bahamas. Federal prosecutors in New York are accused of defrauding customers and investors at FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange he founded in 2019.
In a series of media interviews and tweets following FTX’s bankruptcy filing last month, Bankman-Fried has acknowledged mismanagement while denying it knowingly misled customers or investors.
Roberts told reporters Monday afternoon that it was possible Bankman-Fried, known as SBF, could be extradited as soon as her next court appearance.
Roberts wanted to emphasize that “Bankman-Fried wants to correct clients, and that is why he decided to voluntarily extradite himself to the United States.”
Earlier Monday, extradition proceedings for Bankman-Fried appeared to have stalled as his Bahamian lawyer and local prosecutors argued bitterly in court.
Prosecutors said a deal was reached with Bankman-Fried’s U.S. attorneys to allow her extradition to the United States to face federal charges. But Bankman-Freed’s Bahamian lawyer, Roberts, said he was not part of the agreement.
Roberts argued that prosecutors would not share the US indictment with him and he should not “hunt on the Internet” for it. In response, prosecutor Franklin Williams denied Roberts’ allegation, calling it “unbelievable.”
Bankman-Fried, who was wearing the same dark blue suit he wore when he was arrested last week, was expected to drop his fight against extradition, clearing a significant hurdle to having him returned to U.S. soil to face multiple fraud and conspiracy charges.
But Monday’s hearing left observers in the dark about what would happen next.
During the hearing, the courtroom was packed, mostly with US embassy officials and members of the crypto community, who want to see Bankman-Fried remain in the Bahamas to face punishment rather than being sent to the United States.
At the end of the hearing, the frustrated magistrate overseeing the case cleared the courtroom so Bankman-Fried could call her U.S. lawyers, with her Bahamian lawyer present.
Bankman-Fried was then returned to a Bahamian prison, where he has been held for the past week.
His US legal team did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for his lawyers earlier declined to elaborate on the timeline, saying it was “difficult to give details relying on the Bahamian courts.”
Bankman-Fried originally planned to fight efforts to bring him back to the United States. But after a week in Nassau’s notorious Fox Hill prison, he seems less interested in continuing what would likely be a years-long fight to avoid extradition.
The US State Department reported that the conditions at Fox Hill were harsh. The report criticized the prison for overcrowding, poor nutrition and inadequate sanitation and medical care. The overcrowded cells often lacked mattresses and were “infested with rats, maggots and insects,” the report said.
Bankman-Fried is expected to seek bail again when he is in US custody. If bail is denied, he will be held at the Brooklyn Federal Detention Center in New York. Prisoners, lawyers and human rights activists say the facility, which mostly houses pretrial defendants who are presumed innocent, is also inhumane, citing overcrowding, frequent heat loss and generally poor sanitation.
— CNN’s Jade Thiem-Garcia contributed to this report