FTX's Bankman-Fried to agree to U.S. extradition in about-face after hearing


Sam Bankman-Fried has decided to agree to be extradited to the United States to face fraud charges, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday, just hours after the FTX founder's lawyer told a Bahamas judge he was not ready to consent.

The about-face paves the way for the 30-year-old cryptocurrency mogul to face charges in New York over accusations he stole billions from FTX customers to plug losses at Alameda Research, his hedge fund, before the exchange abruptly collapsed in November.

It was not immediately clear when Bankman-Fried would depart the Bahamas, where he was arrested on Dec. 12 per a U.S. extradition request. No further court date was set at the conclusion of Monday's hearing.

His U.S.-based defense lawyer, Mark Cohen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Bankman-Fried's abrupt decision came after a tumultuous appearance on Monday morning before Magistrate Shaka Serville at a court in capital Nassau, following reports by Reuters and other outlets over the weekend that he had decided to reverse his decision to contest extradition.

At the hearing, his local criminal defense attorney, Jerone Roberts, told Serville initially that he did not know why Bankman-Fried was brought to court on Monday morning.

Following a recess, the lawyer said Bankman-Fried had seen an affidavit laying out the charges against him, but wanted to see the indictment filed against him last week in federal court in New York before consenting to extradition.

Serville said at the hearing that he could not take any action on Bankman-Fried's extradition without the former billionaire's consent.

"I can only be moved by Mr. Bankman-Fried, and he has not moved me," Serville said.

Bankman-Fried was given the chance to speak to his U.S. counsel over the phone and then remanded back to the Caribbean nation's Fox Hill prison. He departed the courthouse in a black van marked "Corrections," carrying a manila folder containing papers, a Reuters witness said.

Franklyn Williams - the Bahamas' deputy director of legal affairs, who is representing the United States in its push to extradite Bankman-Fried - called the day's proceedings "incredible" and appeared frustrated by the delay.

More from Business