FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was sent back to a Bahamas jail Monday in a chaotic courtroom scene, after a reported plan for him to waive his extradition to the U.S. stalled. However, multiple media reports later in the day said that he had told his Bahamian lawyer to proceed with extradition hearings, and he’s now expected back in court later this week.
Reports over the weekend indicated that Bankman-Fried would consent to extradition, but the former crypto billionaire told a different story Monday, demanding to see a copy of his federal indictment before agreeing to return to the U.S. He will return to Fox Hill jail rather than surrendering himself to U.S. custody.
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 on Monday.
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
In open court, chaos reigned. Bankman-Fried, 30, dressed in a blue suit and white button-down shirt, was visibly shaking. His Bahamian defense attorney., Jerone Roberts, 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.
The FTX founder arrived at Bahamian court in a convoy of police vehicles, heavily guarded, just after 10 a.m. ET.
After the hearing closed, the New York Times and Washington Post both reported that Bankman-Fried agreed to extradition, citing Roberts. “We as counsel will prepare the necessary documents to trigger the court,” Mr. Roberts told the Times. CNBC has not yet been able to confirm these reports independently.
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.”
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
Medical care in particular is spotty at the Bahamian prison, the report said. The former billionaire was transported from one of his several multimillion-dollar penthouse homes to the prison last week — though Bankman-Fried was entitled to his own room in the medical wing, Bloomberg reported.
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.
WATCH: Why Sam Bankman-Fried may decide to drop his fight against being extradited to the U.S.
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