CEO of FTX crypto exchange seeks bail deal to avoid detention

By Kara Scannell, Patrick Oppmann and Allison Morrow, CNN

Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried are negotiating with federal prosecutors in New York on a bail arrangement that would enable him to avoid detention, people familiar with the matter told CNN.

FTX crypto exchange founder Bankman-Fried, who oversaw his now-bankrupt empire from a luxury compound in the Bahamas, is expected to return as early as Wednesday to the United States.

In a hearing Wednesday morning, his lawyer in the Bahamas told the court that Bankman-Fried had agreed to extradition to the US, where federal prosecutors have charged him with orchestrating “one of the biggest financial frauds in American history.”

Under questioning by a local magistrate, a disheveled-looking Bankman-Fried confirmed his decision to leave the Bahamas.

“I do wish to waive my right to formal extradition proceedings,” Bankman-Fried said in court.

The 30-year-old appeared to be holding a plastic bag of personal belongings during the hearing. Bankman-Fried gave his occupation as “entrepreneur and executive” and told the magistrate that his address was “a little unclear right now.”

His attorney in the Bahamas, Jerone Roberts, said Bankman-Fried hoped to be extradited immediately. And US embassy representatives in the courtroom told CNN they were working on extraditing Bankman-Fried as soon as Bahamian officials turned him over to US custody. The Bahamian Foreign Minister must formally agree before the extradition can proceed.

Once he is stateside, Bankman-Fried will appear before a judge in Manhattan for a bail hearing. The timing of that hearing will depend on when he arrives in New York and is processed.

In the week and a half since his arrest in the Bahamas, the Bankman-Fried has been held in a prison that US officials have described overcrowded, dirty and lacking medical care. Its crowded cells often lack mattresses and are “infested with rats, maggots, and insects.”

Prosecutors and attorneys for Bankman-Fried are discussing an arrangement for his release, with conditions, that would enable the failed crypto entrepreneur to avoid spending time at the Metropolitan Detention Center. The MDC is a pre-trial holding facility that former inmates and rights advocates have described as inhumane, citing frequent lockdowns, overcrowding and power outages that have left it without heat in the middle of winter.

FTX founder Bankman-Fried agrees to extradition to US

Facing life in prison

Federal prosecutors last week charged Bankman-Fried with defrauding investors and customers of FTX, which he founded in 2019. If convicted on all eight charges of fraud and conspiracy, he could face life in prison.

FTX and its sister trading house, Alameda, both filed for bankruptcy last month after investors rushed to pull their deposits from the exchange, sparking a liquidity crisis.

In the weeks since their bankruptcy, FTX’s new CEO has stated publicly that customer funds deposited on the FTX site were commingled with funds at Alameda, which made a number of speculative, high-risk bets. The CEO, John Ray III, described the situation at the two companies as “old-fashioned embezzlement” at the hands of a small group of “grossly inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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