FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried Monday morning arrived in court in the Bahamas where he is expected to drop his extradition fight, clearing a significant hurdle to return him to US soil to be prosecuted on multiple charges of fraud and conspiracy.
Bankman-Fried had initially planned to fight efforts to return him to the United States. But after a week in Nassau’s notorious Fox Hill prison, he appears less interested in keeping up what would have likely been a yearslong battle to avoid extradition.
The US State Department reported that conditions at Fox Hill, the Bahamian prison where Bankman-Fried has stayed since his arrest last Monday, are harsh. The report criticized the prison for its overcrowding, poor nutrition and inadequate sanitation and medical care. Crowded cells often lack mattresses and were “infested with rats, maggots, and insects,” according to the 2021 report.
Bankman-Fried is expected to again request bail once he is in US custody. If denied bail, he would be held at a federal detention center in Brooklyn, New York. Inmates, lawyers and human rights advocates say the conditions inside that facility, which mostly houses pre-trial defendants who are presumed innocent, are also inhumane, citing overcrowding, frequent loss of heating and poor sanitary conditions overall.
At the Monday hearing, tensions between Bankman-Fried’s lawyer and Bahamian government prosecutors began to spill over.
Bankman-Fried’s attroney, Jerone Roberts, told the court he had not been advised able to speak with his client.
“Things are moving prematurely and without any involvement from me,” Roberts said.
Bahamian prosecutors accused Roberts of using “sharp tactics.”
The magistrate hearing the case, Shaka Serville, finally cleared the courtroom so Bankman-Fried could speak with his attorneys in private.
Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old former crypto celebrity, was arrested a week ago at his luxury residence in the Bahamas. Federal prosecutors in New York charged him with eight counts of wire fraud and conspiracy charges, alleging he defrauded customers and investors in FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded in 2019.
In a series of media interviews since FTX filed for bankruptcy last month, Bankman-Fried has admitted to managerial mistakes while denying that he knowingly defrauded customers or investors.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyer declined to comment on a timeline for his return to the United States.
This story is developing. It will be updated.