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Sam Bankman-Fried returns to US after abandoning extradition war



Nassau, Bahamas
CNN

extradition proceedings for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried appeared to be stalled as his Bahamian lawyer and local prosecutors argued bitterly in court on Monday.

Prosecutors said there was an agreement with Bankman-Fried’s US attorneys to allow his extradition to the United States to face federal charges. But Bankman-Fried’s Bahamian lawyer, Jerone Roberts, said he was not involved in that deal himself.

Roberts claims prosecutors won’t share the US indictment with him and that he doesn’t need to “fish on the internet” to get it. In response, prosecutor Franklyn Williams dismissed Roberts’ accusation, saying it was “incredible.”

Bankman-Fried is expected to drop his extradition fight, overcoming a significant hurdle to get him back on US soil to be indicted on multiple charges. fraud and conspiracy.

But Monday’s hearing left observers in the dark about what will happen next.

At the end of the hearing, the frustrated judge overseeing the case cleared the courtroom so Bankman-Fried could call his U.S. attorneys in the presence of the Bahamian attorney.

Bankman-Fried was then returned to the Bahamian prison where he has been held for the past week. No future court date was set at Monday’s hearing.

His US legal team did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Earlier in the day, a representative for his attorneys declined to provide details on the timeline, saying that “it is difficult to give specifics based on the Bahamian courts.”

Bankman-Fried originally planned to resist attempts to bring him back to the United States. But after a week in Nassau’s notorious Fox Hill prison, he showed little interest in keeping up with what could be a years-long battle to avoid extradition.

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and former CEO of crypto exchange FTX, is escorted into the Magistrates Court building in Nassau, Bahamas December 19, 2022.

The US State Department reports 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 overcrowding, poor nutrition, inadequate sanitation and medical care. Overcrowded cells often lack mattresses and are “infested with rats, maggots and insects,” according to report 2021.

Bankman-Fried is expected to request bail again after he is detained in the United States. If bail is denied, he will be held at a federal detention center in Brooklyn, New York. Prisoners, lawyers and human rights advocates say conditions inside the facility, which mainly holds pre-trial defendants who are presumed innocent, It’s also inhumanedue to overcrowding, frequent loss of heating and generally poor sanitary conditions.

At Monday’s hearing, tensions between Bankman-Fried’s attorneys and Bahamian government prosecutors began to spread.

Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Jerone Roberts, told the court he was not advised to speak to his client.

“Things are happening too soon and without any of my involvement,” Roberts said.

Bahamian prosecutors accused Roberts of using “sharp tactics”.

The judge on the case, Shaka Serville, finally cleared the courtroom so Bankman-Fried could speak privately with his attorneys.

Bankman-Fried, 30, a 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 fraud and conspiracy, accusing him of defrauding customers and investors into 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 mismanagement and denied that he intentionally defrauded customers or Investors.

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