Inside Sam Bankman-Fried’s First Bahamas Court Hearing After His Arrest

Bankman-Fried faces extradition to the United States from the Bahamas.

AccessTimeIconDec 13, 2022 at 7:31 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 1, 2023 at 3:22 a.m. UTC
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NASSAU, The Bahamas — Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried told a Bahamas judge on Tuesday that he was not waiving his right to fight extradition to the U.S.

The former titan of industry appeared in a Nassau, Bahamas courtroom on Tuesday morning to face an extradition order from the U.S. on federal charges of wire fraud, conspiracy and other allegations.

Bankman-Fried was arrested in Nassau on Monday evening after a magistrate judge signed an emergency warrant for his arrest at the request of prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York.

He arrived to the courthouse at approximately 10:30 a.m. ET wearing a blue suit. Bankman-Fried was not handcuffed as he sat alone in the front row of the court, directly facing Magistrate Judge Joyann Ferguson-Pratt, who signed the warrant for his arrest Monday.

Before the proceedings could begin, Bankman-Fried’s attorney asked the judge for permission to allow his client to take a prescription medication.

Bankman-Fried told the judge that the medication was in his possession when he was arrested but he had not had access to it since Monday. A police officer brought a ziploc bag of Bankman-Fried’s belongings into the court, which contained his medication, and the judge asked if he needed water to take it.

“I don’t need water but I do need to take my shirt off to take them,” Bankman-Fried, who is known to take Emsam patches as an antidepressant, told the court.

“Well, you certainly can’t take your shirt off in court,” the judge said before allowing him to leave the room for several minutes to take his medication.

Bankman-Fried, who was characteristically jittery before taking his medication, was no longer jittery upon his return to court.

Bankman-Fried’s parents, Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried, were seated in the third row behind members of the press.

They appeared to oscillate between dejection and defiance, at times holding their heads in their hands and clasping their hands. Bankman-Fried’s mother audibly laughed several times when her son was referred to as a “fugitive” and his father occasionally put his fingers in his ears as if to drown out the sound of the proceedings.

Members of the press assemble before the pink-hued Magistrate Court in Nassau in anticipation of Bankman-Fried's arrival. (Cheyenne Ligon/CoinDesk)
Members of the press assemble before the pink-hued Magistrate Court in Nassau in anticipation of Bankman-Fried's arrival. (Cheyenne Ligon/CoinDesk)
Bankman-Fried arrived for his hearing escorted by several Bahamian SWAT vehicles, entering through the western side of the courthouse. (Cheyenne Ligon/CoinDesk)
Bankman-Fried arrived for his hearing escorted by several Bahamian SWAT vehicles, entering through the western side of the courthouse. (Cheyenne Ligon/CoinDesk)

A long shot at bail

Bankman-Fried’s Bahamian counsel pushed the judge to consider allowing the now-disgraced former CEO to post a cash bail, arguing that his client was not a flight risk.

The lawyer told the court that Bankman-Fried had been a permanent resident of the Bahamas for “many years” (Bankman-Fried is reported to have lived in Albany since 2021) and owns “real property” here.

Prosecutors pushed back, arguing that the extradition treaty with the United States required the defendant to be held in custody.

“Custody, My Lady, custody,” the prosecutor told Judge Ferguson-Pratt, “which has one meaning whether it’s Webster’s [dictionary] or Oxford or otherwise. Custody is inconsistent with the act of bail.”

The judge told the courtroom that she had been “wrestling” with whether or not to grant him bail since signing the warrant for his arrest.

“On a good day, I don’t drink. Ask anybody,” she said. “But yesterday, I was sure gonna drink.”

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers argued that he has had opportunities to run “up from the moment the FTX issues became public” and did not take them.

His lawyer added that the flight risk can be “mitigated” by “electronic monitoring systems” and a large cash bail.

The judge seemed unconvinced, and told the attorneys that she had had several cases in which defendants forfeited cash bail and went on the lam.

“The creole expression is ‘allez,’” Judge Ferguson-Pratt said. “They never came back.”

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have requested bail, according to Reuters.

UPDATE (19:45 UTC): Adds bail request.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.

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Cheyenne Ligon

Cheyenne Ligon was a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.


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