During a dramatic day in court on Monday, former FTX chief Sam Bankman-Fried voluntarily agreed to be extradited to the US, the Washington Post reports. The decision comes as the crypto exchange seeks to recoup money spent by Bankman-Fried and his cabal, such as political donations.
A Monday morning court session in which Bankman-Fried was expected to agree to extradition lasted only 10 minutes thanks to a public outburst. Jerome Roberts, a local lawyer representing the curly-haired entrepreneur, said the court session happened without his knowledge — things were moving “prematurely,” he said.
Roberts asked for a 45-minute break to confer with Bankman-Fried in what the Washington Post described as a “heated presentation.” He reportedly asked for a copy of the indictment filed by US prosecutors and requested additional time to speak to his client. This was met with criticism by prosecutor Franklyn Williams, who replied that he wanted no part in “a play that was unfolding.”
Bankman-Fried had initially fought extradition, but has seemingly changed his tune — presumably due to the poor standards at Fox Hill, the only prison in the Bahamas where he is currently kept.
In the US, Bankman-Fried faces criminal and federal charges of conspiracy, fraud, money laundering, and violating campaign finance laws. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have additionally filed civil suits against him.
It’s unclear when Bankman-Fried will return stateside. Once there, he’ll face charges in federal court in the Southern District of New York.
FTX demands its money back
The new chief exec of crypto exchange FTX, John J. Ray III, has described the case as “just plain old embezzlement” — the worst he’s ever seen. Now, Ray is looking to recoup voluntary payments Bankman-Fried and other former executives made to third parties before FTX collapsed, including charity donations. Bankman-Fried was notorious for funnelling millions into political campaigns prior to his fall from grace.
On Monday, FTX said it had been “approached by a number of recipients of contributions or other payments” who wished to return what they had been given by the former chief exec and his cabal.
“To the extent such payments are not returned voluntarily, the FTX debtors intend to commence actions before the bankruptcy court to require the return of such payments, with interest accruing from the date any action is commenced,” the company added.
However, returning political donations may not be so simple. FTX gave over $41 million to political action committees (PACs), such as Protect Our Future, which received $27 million of FTX funds.
“That’s not something they can refund,” incumbent Republican Carolyn Bordeaux told AP. “Here is an example of a billionaire using money he stole and diverted into political contributions—it’s an egregious example of the corruption in our political system.”