Sam Bankman-Fried will likely withdraw his opposition to US authorities’ attempts to extradite him from the Bahamas. Legacy media – alluding to unnamed and inside sources – reported the change might be presented in court as early as Tuesday, Dec. 20. Stories circulating over the previous weekend suggested the FTX founder would take that course on Monday. Instead, there was “chaos in the courtroom” with apparent incongruity between the defendant’s stateside lawyers and his Bahamian counsel.
“TECH FTX founder Bankman-Fried sent back to Bahamas jail in day of courtroom chaos.” That was a headline representative of the coverage on Monday, Dec. 19. The weekend chatter about SBF agreeing to be extradited seemed not to reach his Bahamian counsel. Instead, CNBC reported Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, Jerone Roberts, told the court that he was “shocked” that his client was in court, saying, “I did not request him to be here this morning.” And then the story turned around again.
By dinner time on the west coast, new stories were out that Bankman-Fried would not protest his extradition back to the United States. The onetime billionaire faces a panoply of criminal charges and civil lawsuits surrounding the collapse of the cryptocurrency trading platform FTX. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, reported he “has agreed to be extradited, according to a person familiar with the matter, and plans were being fleshed out by his legal team after the day’s court proceedings.” And “lawyers hope to have a new hearing on the matter as early as Tuesday.”
When he gets back, Bankman-Fried could be sent to the Metropolitan Correction Center, a federal jail in Manhattan housing those prosecuted in the Southern District of New York. It’s where Jeffrey Epstein died through either a “perfect storm of screw-ups,” as then-Attorney General William Barr said, or by the hand of another. The accused will then either strike a plea deal or fight fraud and election finance crimes charges.
Ira Lee Sorkin, famous for being Bernie Madoff’s defense attorney, and former head of the Security and Exchange Commission in New York, thinks the civil law investigations will slow to a crawl by design. He said the DOJ is likely concerned that “if the civil cases do proceed ahead, it will impinge negatively on the ability to carry out the criminal case.” Sorkin knows a thing or two about how this is likely to go – he was also Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division of the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. He noted that it’s the beginning of the beginning, not just for Bankman-Fried, but also for other defendants yet to be named. Appearing on CNBC, he said:
“Many of the charges are conspiracies. You can’t have a conspiracy with yourself. You have a conspiracy of at least two people, and what I suspect is going to happen is there will be what we call a superseding indictment – where there will be other defendants charged who conspired with the main defendant here.”
If the “people familiar with the matter” are correct, Bankman-Fried will move from a Bahamian prison to a cell in the US this week. His ultimate extradition is a foregone conclusion, given the treaty obligations between the Bahamas and the United States. The Bahamian prison housing the accused fraudster is criticized for overcrowding, poor nutrition, scandalously poor sanitation, and cells infested with rats, maggots, and insects. Metropolitan Correction Center will not need to make any changes for Mr. Bankman-Fried to feel like he never left the islands.
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