Sam Bankman-Fried arrived at a courthouse in the Bahamas early Monday and is expected to tell a judge he will not fight extradition to the U.S., where he faces multiple criminal and civil charges related to the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
The decision comes just a week after Bankman-Fried’s lawyers had initially said that they planned to fight extradition. An extradition hearing had been scheduled for Feb. 8. His turnabout could speed up the timetable for him to be sent to the U.S.
Bahamian authorities arrested Bankman-Fried last Monday at the request of the U.S. government. The former FTX CEO faces criminal charges in the U.S., including wire fraud and money laundering, as well as civil charges. The 30-year-old could potentially spend the rest of his life in jail.
Bankman-Fried arrived at the courthouse in a black van marked Corrections, which was escorted by a SWAT vehicle and a police vehicle. Police quickly whisked him into an entrance at the back of the courthouse.
Earlier, a handful of people who said they were either crypto enthusiasts or FTX customers that lost money came to court to witness the proceedings. One man called out “Sam’s a fraud,” as he entered the courthouse.
Bankman-Fried’s downfall, from crypto evangelist to pariah, occurred with stunning speed. FTX filed for bankruptcy protection on Nov. 11 when it ran out of money after the cryptocurrency equivalent of a bank run.
Before the bankruptcy, Bankman-Fried was considered by many in Washington and on Wall Street as a wunderkind of digital currencies, someone who could help take them mainstream, in part by working with policymakers to bring more oversight and trust to the industry.
Bankman-Fried had been worth tens of billions of dollars — at least on paper — and was able to attract celebrities like Tom Brady or former politicians like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton to his conferences at luxury resorts in the Bahamas. One prominent Silicon Valley firm, Sequoia Capital, invested hundreds of millions of dollars in FTX.
U.S. prosecutors and financial regulators painted a very different picture of Bankman-Fried and FTX last week. An indictment unsealed Tuesday alleging he played a central role in the rapid collapse of FTX and hid its problems from the public and investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Bankman-Fried illegally used investors’ money to buy real estate on behalf of himself and his family.
The new CEO of FTX, John Ray III, told a congressional committee on Tuesday that there was nothing sophisticated about what Bankman-Fried was up to.
“This is just old fashion embezzlement, taking money from others and using it for your own purposes,” he said.