By Jasper Ward
(Reuters) -Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is expected to appear in court in the Bahamas on Monday to reverse his decision to contest extradition to the United States, where he faces fraud charges, a person familiar with the matter said on Saturday.
The cryptocurrency mogul was indicted in federal court in Manhattan on Dec. 13 and accused of engaging in a scheme to defraud FTX customers.
His decision to consent to extradition would pave the way for him to appear in U.S. court to face charges of using stolen customer deposits to pay for expenses and debts and to make investments on behalf of his crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research LLC.
Still, any trial is likely more than a year away, legal experts told Reuters.
Bankman-Fried, 30, was arrested on Dec. 12 in the Bahamas, where he lives and where FTX is based. He was remanded on Tuesday to the Caribbean nation’s Fox Hill prison after Chief Magistrate JoyAnn Ferguson rejected his request to remain at home while awaiting a hearing on his extradition to the United States.
Neither a spokesman nor a U.S.-based lawyer for Bankman-Fried immediately responded to requests for comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment.
Bankman-Fried had made a new bail application before the Bahamas Supreme Court on Thursday, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters at the time.
Bankman-Fried amassed a fortune valued at over $20 billion as he rode a cryptocurrency boom to build FTX into one of the world’s largest exchanges before it abruptly collapsed this year.
Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, described the collapse of FTX as one of the “biggest financial frauds in American history.” Bankman-Fried has acknowledged risk management failures at FTX but has said he did not believe he had any criminal liability.
It was not immediately clear what prompted Bankman-Fried to change his mind and decide not to contest extradition.
The U.S. State Department in a 2021 report said conditions at Fox Hill were “harsh,” citing overcrowding, rodent infestation and prisoners relying on buckets as toilets. Authorities there say conditions have since improved.
Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years in prison if ultimately convicted of all eight counts he faces in the United States, though any sentence would ultimately be determined by a judge based on a range of factors.
(Reporting by Jasper Ward; Additional reporting by Luc Cohen and Jack Queen; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Chris Reese)