AFTER a confusing day in court, Sam Bankman-Fried has decided not to fight extradition to the United States, his attorneys announced yesterday.
“He has decided to waive his right to fight the extradition and he is going to go to the United States freely,” Krystal Rolle, KC, who represents Bankman-Fried on non-criminal matters, told The Tribune.
She said part of the reason the 30-year-old has agreed to be extradited is he believes he can be more helpful in the US in his quest to make FTX customers “whole”.
“I think the core issue is the fact that he wants to be as useful as he can in his pursuit to make customers whole and that is his ultimate objective and he wants to make sure that he can do all that he can to make that happen,” Ms Rolle said.
“The extradition and the fight to a large extent would become the issue.”
Now his local attorneys are focused on preparing the necessary documents so the court can begin the extradition process, she said.
She added that Bankman-Fried appeared to be in good spirits and his decision making did not appear to be swayed by conditions at the prison in Fox Hill.
“He’s fine,” Ms Rolle said. “I’ve seen him a number of times over the past few days and he is in good spirits, he is in good health. He has been doing well each time that I’ve seen him and he is quite confident in his ability and desire to do all that he can to make this right.”
This came after a confusing hearing at Magistrate’s Court earlier yesterday where it was anticipated the former billionaire would waive his right to an extradition hearing. However during that hearing, one of his attorneys, Jerone Roberts, expressed surprise at his client’s appearance in court, claiming his legal team did not request to appear before the judge.
Bankman-Fried faces several fraud charges in the United States, including wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit fraud and violating campaign finance laws.
Since he elected not to waive his extradition right and was denied bail by the chief magistrate last Tuesday, Bankman-Fried spent the past week in remand at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.
While multiple reports indicated that Bankman-Fried had intended to waive his extradition right, which resulted in Magistrate Shaka Serville convening court on an order of attendance, Mr Roberts claimed he had no knowledge of such a motion.
He added that he personally did not request his client’s presence in court yesterday claiming that he had only come to court to speak with Magistrate Serville to discuss securing a copy of Bankman-Fried’s indictment to review with his client.
Upon arriving at the Magistrate’s Court complex, Mr Roberts said he was “shocked” to see his client in court. Mr Roberts then informed the magistrate that Bankman-Fried would not move to waive his extradition right until he had time to review the charges against him and discuss it with his legal teams both here and in the US.
Attorney Franklyn Williams, KC, who appeared for the prosecution shot back at Mr Roberts, saying that the purpose of yesterday’s hearing had been “subverted”.
After claiming that everything Mr Roberts said was “incredible,” Mr Williams recounted to the court that on Saturday he received a call from Mr Roberts while he was visiting Bankman-Fried in prison. He said shortly after that visit, rumours of Bankman-Fried waiving his extradition right began to circulate throughout the media. Mr Williams further said that a member of Bankman-Fried’s legal team indicated to him over the weekend that they intended to waive his extradition right.
Mr Roberts refuted these claims by restating that he only came to court yesterday with the intention to receive the full indictment to review with his client and saying that he had no communication with the media on this matter.
Upon hearing that Bankman-Fried still needed time to discuss the matter with his counsel both here and abroad, Mr Williams said that he wanted no part in the “play” Mr Roberts had conducted in court.
Magistrate Serville then informed Bankman-Fried directly that the court thought he was invoking Section 17 of the Extradition Act, but that his counsel had indicated that was not the case. As such he allowed the defendant to speak with his present counsel and his US attorneys via telephone before sending him back to BDCS.
After the hearing, Mr Roberts later told Eyewitness News similar comments that Ms Rolle revealed, saying that Bankman-Fried had agreed to be extradited.
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