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FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried paves way for extradition

Bankman-Fried has signed legal documents paving the way for his extradition to the US from the Bahamas.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has signed legal documents paving the way for his extradition from the Bahamas to the United States, where he faces fraud charges over the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange, a Bahamian official said.

Doan Cleare, acting Bahamas Corrections Commissioner, told Reuters the documents were signed around midday on Tuesday. A hearing in the Bankman-Fried case will take place on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (16:00 GMT), a court official told Reuters.

Wednesday’s proceedings could set the stage for the 30-year-old cryptocurrency mogul to leave the Caribbean nation after several days of confusion over the status of Bankman-Fried’s extradition.

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A US attorney for Bankman-Fried did not respond to requests for comment. A person familiar with the matter said Bankman-Fried intends to consent to the extradition. Bankman-Fried has acknowledged failings in risk management at FTX, but has said he does not believe it bears criminal liability.

A spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment.

Bankman-Fried was arrested December 13 in the Bahamas, where he lives and where FTX was headquartered, after a grand jury sitting in Manhattan federal court indicted him for allegedly stealing client funds to cover losses at Alameda Research, his crypto hedge fund.

He initially told a Bahamian court that he would challenge the extradition, but Reuters and other media reported over the weekend that he would reverse his decision.

Earlier Tuesday, Bankman-Fried’s local defense attorney, Jerone Roberts, declined to comment as he left the Magistrate Court in the capital, Nassau. US embassy officials entered the courthouse earlier, a Reuters witness said, but Bankman-Fried was not seen on Tuesday.

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Fall from grace

The arrest capped a stunning fall from grace for Bankman-Fried, who boomed in bitcoin values ​​and other digital assets to become a multi-billionaire.

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It has come under increasing scrutiny since early November, when clients rushed to withdraw funds from FTX amid concerns about mixing its assets with Alameda.

Damian Williams, New York City’s top federal prosecutor, said last week that Bankman-Fried’s actions amounted to “one of the largest financial frauds in American history.”

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

He has since been held at the Bahamas Department of Corrections in Nassau, formerly known as Fox Hill Prison. In a 2021 report, the US State Department described conditions at the facility as “harsh,” citing overcrowding, rodent infestation, and prisoners relying on buckets for toilets.

Local authorities say conditions have improved since then.

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