FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (C) is led away handcuffed by officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force at the Nassau, Bahamas, courthouse on December 19, 2022.
Kris Ingraham | AFP | Getty Images
Sam Bankman-Fried will not return to the U.S. and will instead be remanded back to Bahamian prison on the orders of Bahamian magistrate Shaka Serville, in a surprise move after reports emerged over the weekend that he would surrender himself to U.S. custody.
The disgraced crypto billionaire will return to Fox Hill jail after demanding to see a copy of his federal indictment.
Bankman-Fried’s legal team signaled that they would fight extradition last week. CNBC and several other outlets reported that Bankman-Fried had changed his mind and would instead submit himself for extradition today.
In open court, chaos reigned. Bankman-Fried, dressed in a blue suit and white button down, was visibly shaking. His defense attorney told the court that he was “shocked” that Bankman-Fried was in court.
“I did not request him to be here this morning,” the attorney said. Franklyn Williams KC, the Bahamian prosecutor, said that he “understood that [Bankman-Fried] intended to waive extradition,” according to an NBC News producer present in the courtroom.
Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, is escorted inside of the Magistrate’s Court in Nassau, Bahamas, on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022.
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The FTX founder arrived at Bahamian court in a convoy of police vehicles, heavily guarded, just after 10 A.M. Eastern Time.
The move comes just days after he was remanded to the medical unit of Bahamas’ notorious Fox Hill prison.
The State Department in a 2020 report called the conditions at Fox Hill Prison “harsh,” citing “overcrowding, poor nutrition, inadequate sanitation, poor ventilation, and inadequate medical care.”
Medical care in particular is spotty at the Bahamian prison, the report said. The former billionaire was transported from one of his several multi-million dollar penthouse homes to the prison last week — though Bankman-Fried was entitled to his own room in the medical wing, Bloomberg reported.
Sam Bankman-Fried faces life in federal prison, without the possibility of supervised release, if convicted on just one of eight offenses that prosecutors have charged him with.
His sentence could be reduced by mitigating factors. Trial lawyers and former prosecutors say that, in practice, many white-collar defendants are given lesser sentences than what the guidelines dictate. So, even in large fraud cases, you can see life sentences drastically reduced.