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FTX founder Bankman-Fried consents to be extradited to US

The cryptocurrency entrepreneur faces fraud charges and could be flown from the Bahamas to the US on Wednesday.

Sam Bankman-Fried has agreed to be extradited to the United States, where he faces fraud charges, according to an affidavit his lawyer read at a court hearing in the Bahamas.

It paves the way for the founder of bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX to fly to the US as soon as Wednesday.

Bankman-Fried decided to accept extradition in part out of a “desire to make the relevant clients whole,” according to the affidavit, read in court on Wednesday and dated Tuesday.

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Bankman-Fried stepped onto the witness stand and spoke clearly and firmly as he was sworn in.

“Yes, I wish to waive my right to such formal extradition proceedings,” he told the judge.

His defense attorney said his client was “eager to go.”

After the statements, the hearing was adjourned.

Officials from the FBI and the US Marshals Service, which handles the transportation of people in US custody, have arrived in the Bahamian capital Nassau, a person familiar with the matter said.

It was not immediately clear when Bankman-Fried would leave the Caribbean nation for New York.

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Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged the 30-year-old cryptocurrency mogul with stealing billions of dollars in assets from FTX clients to cover losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research, in what federal prosecutor Damian Williams called “a one of the largest financial frauds in the United States. history”.

Bankman-Fried was arrested on a US extradition request on December 13 in the Bahamas, where he lives and where FTX is headquartered. He initially said he would challenge the extradition, but Reuters and other media reported over the weekend that he would reverse that decision.

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Bankman-Fried’s US defense attorney, Mark Cohen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment.

Bankman-Fried has acknowledged failings in risk management at FTX, but has said he does not believe it is criminally liable.

confusing sequence of events

Wednesday’s hearing follows a confusing sequence of events this week that left the status of Bankman-Fried’s long-awaited extradition unclear.

On Monday, following news reports that he had agreed to be extradited, Bankman-Fried appeared in court with his local defense attorney, Jerone Roberts, saying he had not been informed of the purpose of the proceedings. After a brief recess, Roberts said his client had seen an affidavit outlining the charges against him, but he wanted access to the full United States indictment against him before consenting. for extradition.

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Then the process was suspended. They were expected to resume Tuesday morning, but Bankman-Fried’s legal documents were not ready on time.

Bankman-Fried rode a cryptocurrency boom to become a multi-time billionaire and an influential US political donor before the FTX crash wiped out his wealth and tarnished his reputation. The collapse was fueled by a wave of client withdrawals over concerns about mixing funds with Alameda.

The $32 billion exchange filed for bankruptcy on November 11, and Bankman-Fried resigned as its chief executive the same day.

Since then he has been held at the Bahamas Department of Corrections in Nassau, known as Fox Hill Prison. In a 2021 report, the US State Department described conditions at the facility as “harsh,” citing overcrowding, rodent infestations, and inmates relying on buckets as toilets.

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Local authorities say conditions have improved since then.

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