FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, center, is escorted from a Corrections Department van as he arrives at the Magistrate Court building for a hearing, in Nassau, Bahamas, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)BY KEN SWEET AND REBECCA BLACKWELL
NASSAU, BAHAMAS (AP) — Bahamian authorities said Wednesday that former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has been extradited to the United States, where he faces criminal charges related to the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange.
Bahamas’s attorney general’s office said that Bankman-Fried would be leaving for the United States later Wednesday, noting he had waived his right to challenge the extradition.
Reporters on the scene witnessed Bankman-Fried leaving a Magistrate Court in Nassau in a dark SUV earlier Wednesday. The vehicle was later seen arriving at a private airfield by Nassau’s airport, from which he is expected to be flown to the United States. He is due to land in New York and will likely appear in front of a U.S. judge on Thursday.
“The Bahamas has determined that the provisional arrest, and subsequent written consent by (Bankman-Fried) to be extradited without formal extradition proceedings satisfies the requirements of the (extradition treaty between the U.S. and the Bahamas) and our nation’s Extradition Act,” said Bahamian Attorney General Ryan Pinder, in a statement.
Bahamian authorities arrested Bankman-Fried last week at the request of the U.S. government. U.S. prosecutors allege he played a central role in the rapid collapse of FTX and hid its problems from the public and investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Bankman-Fried illegally used investors’ money to buy real estate on behalf of himself and his family.
The 30-year-old could potentially spend the rest of his life in jail.
Bankman-Fried was denied bail Friday after a Bahamian judge ruled that he posed a flight risk. The founder and former CEO of FTX, once worth tens of billions of dollars on paper, had been held in the Bahamas’ Fox Hill prison, which has been has been cited by human rights activists as having poor sanitation and as being infested with rats and insects.
Once he’s back in the U.S., Bankman-Fried’s attorney will be able to request that he be released on bail.
Bankman-Fried was one of the world’s wealthiest people on paper, with an estimated net worth of $32 billion. He was a prominent personality in Washington, donating millions of dollars toward mostly left-leaning political causes and Democratic political campaigns. FTX grew to become the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world.
He has said that he did not “knowingly” misuse customers’ funds, and said he believes his millions of angry customers will eventually be made whole.
At a congressional hearing last week, the new FTX CEO John Ray III, who is tasked with taking the company through bankruptcy, bluntly disputed those assertions: “We will never get all these assets back,” Ray said.
Sweet reported from Charlotte, North Carolina.