Disgraced crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) said today in Bahamian court that he no longer intends to fight extradition to the United States, after previously being against the move. However, the plan surprised his lawyer, prompting courtroom confusion—and the judge ultimately sent the FTX founder back to prison.
Bankman-Fried faces criminal charges in the United States related to the recent collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, and said today that he'd changed his mind on battling extradition from the Bahamas. However, SBF's Bahamian lawyer Jerone Roberts said that he was not aware of his client's changing intentions.
“Whatever trail that got him here this morning, it did not involve me,” Roberts told Magistrate Judge Shaka Serville, per a report from The Wall Street Journal.
The FTX founder and former CEO was apparently ready to leave the Bahamas to face charges in the United States, with Bloomberg citing a source with direct knowledge of the decision who claimed that Bankman-Fried believes that he can obtain bail in the U.S.
No ruling was made on Monday before Bankman-Fried was ordered back to prison. He's next due in court on February 8, although a hearing could be called before then.
Media outlets reported this weekend that SBF was considering dropping his fight against extradition after spending several days in a Bahamian prison. Decrypt did not receive an immediate response from SBF's spokesman.
Police in the Bahamas last week arrested SBF, as collapsed crypto exchange FTX is based in the Caribbean country. U.S. authorities had requested his arrest, and the Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit at the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney's Office hit SBF with eight criminal charges—including wire fraud and money laundering—on December 13.
Crypto exchange FTX went bankrupt last month in a highly-publicized collapse. The company let customers buy, sell, and store numerous digital assets, as well as place bets on the future prices of crypto through derivative products—and was one of the most popular exchanges in the world.
But things turned sour after it became clear the company did not have sufficient funds to back customers' assets. This was allegedly because trading firm Alameda Research, also founded by Bankman-Fried, had the ability to use FTX customer assets for its own means and without oversight, according to newly appointed FTX CEO, John J. Ray III.
Ray said that the company blew up because it was run by "a very small group of grossly inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals." Meanwhile, James Bromley, counsel to FTX's new management, described the exchange's fall as "one of the most abrupt and difficult collapses in the history of corporate America."
SBF, who wooed politicians and made huge donations to Democrats and Republicans alike, has denied that he knowingly did anything illegal. Before his arrest, Bankman-Fried gave a series of public interviews and claimed that he would try to get back customers' funds that went up in smoke.
At least $8 billion dollars worth of assets are missing following the collapse of the exchange. FTX's collapse has pushed U.S. lawmakers to renew their push to regulate the fast-moving and complex crypto industry, with a new bill introduced by Senators Warren and Marshall amid Senate hearings about the FTX collapse.
Editor's note: This story was updated after publication with new information.