FTX founder Bankman-Fried caught 'dozing off' in court

Bleary-eyed, Sam? FTX founder Bankman-Fried ‘dozed off and had to be woken up by official’ in court – as his hearing for extradition to the US is set for tomorrow

  • FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried appeared to doze off in a Bahamas courtroom 
  • The pressure of the case appeared to have taken a toll on the 30-year-old 
  • Bankman-Fried agreed to be extradited to the United States to face fraud
  • He wore a dark blue jacket and untucked shirt to the Monday court hearing
  • The cryptocurrency mogul is accused of stealing billions from FTX customers

Disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried appeared to doze off in a Bahamas courtroom during a Monday hearing in which he agreed to be extradited to the US against his lawyer’s advice.

Bankman-Fried, who is accused of conning FTX customers out of $8 billion, was reportedly seen ‘leaning back with his eyes closed’ only to be woken up by court officials.

The pressure of the case appearing to have taken a toll on the 30-year-old who wore a dark blue jacket and untucked shirt to the court hearing.

Bankman-Fried decided to agree to be extradited to the United States to face fraud charges, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday, just hours after the FTX founder’s lawyer told a Bahamas judge he was not ready to consent.

The about-face paves the way for the 30-year-old cryptocurrency mogul to face charges in New York over accusations he stole billions from FTX customers to plug losses at Alameda Research, his hedge fund, before the exchange abruptly collapsed in November.

 Disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (pictured) appeared to doze off in a Bahamas courtroom during a Monday hearing

The pressure of the case appeared to have taken a toll on the 30-year-old who wore a dark blue jacket and untucked shirt to the court hearing

It was not immediately clear when Bankman-Fried would depart the Bahamas, where he was arrested on Dec. 12 per a U.S. extradition request. No further court date was set at the conclusion of Monday’s hearing.

His U.S.-based defense lawyer, Mark Cohen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Bankman-Fried’s abrupt decision came after a tumultuous appearance on Monday morning before Magistrate Shaka Serville at a court in capital Nassau, following reports by Reuters and other outlets over the weekend that he had decided to reverse his decision to contest extradition.

At the hearing, his local criminal defense attorney, Jerone Roberts, told Serville initially that he did not know why Bankman-Fried was brought to court on Monday morning.

Following a recess, the lawyer said Bankman-Fried had seen an affidavit laying out the charges against him but wanted to see the indictment filed against him last week in federal court in New York before consenting to extradition.

Serville said at the hearing that he could not take any action on Bankman-Fried’s extradition without the former billionaire’s consent.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, was advised against agreeing to be extradited to the U.S. Jerone Roberts (left) a local defense attorney was seen pursued by journalist outside court

A fence topped with barbed wire surrounds the Magistrate Court building, where the FTX founder appeared for an extradition hearing

Journalists followed Roberts (left) a local defense attorney for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, as he left the Magistrate Court in Nassau, Bahamas

‘I can only be moved by Mr. Bankman-Fried, and he has not moved me,’ Serville said.

Bankman-Fried was given the chance to speak to his U.S. counsel over the phone and then remanded back to the Caribbean nation’s Fox Hill prison. He departed the courthouse in a black van marked ‘Corrections,’ carrying a manila folder containing papers, a Reuters witness said.

Franklyn Williams – the Bahamas’ deputy director of legal affairs, who is representing the United States in its push to extradite Bankman-Fried – called the day’s proceedings ‘incredible’ and appeared frustrated by the delay.

The 30-year-old crypto mogul rode a boom in the value of bitcoin and other digital assets to become a billionaire several times over and an influential political donor in the United States, until FTX collapsed in early November after a wave of withdrawals. The exchange declared bankruptcy on Nov. 11.

Bankman-Fried has acknowledged risk-management failures at FTX but said he does not believe he has criminal liability.

Bankman-Fried was spotted by DailyMail.com on the balcony of a $30m Bahamas penthouse. He later said he was not living there but remained somewhere in the Bahamas

During Monday’s hearing, he spoke only to greet Serville and to confirm he would speak with his U.S. counsel.

On Dec 13, a day after his arrest, Bankman-Fried was taken to a Bahamas correctional facility. A 2021 U.S. State Department report of the facility said detainees faced rodents and a lack of toilets, though local authorities said conditions have since improved. At his Dec 13 hearing, he referred to the night of his arrest as ‘hectic’.

After Monday’s hearing, his criminal defense lawyer in the Bahamas, Roberts, told the New York Times that his client had agreed to be voluntarily extradited and that he hoped Bankman-Fried would be back in court later this week.

‘We as counsel will prepare the necessary documents to trigger the court,’ the newspaper quoted Roberts as saying. ‘Mr. Bankman-Fried wishes to put the customers right, and that is what has driven his decision.’

Roberts could not immediately be reached for comment.

Krystal Rolle, a lawyer who has represented Bankman-Fried on non-criminal matters in the Bahamas, also confirmed comments that Roberts had made earlier to local broadcaster Eyewitness News Bahamas that Bankman-Fried would voluntarily waive his right to an extradition hearing. 

The crypto CEO whose troubled FTX sparked market panic: Hoodie-wearing vegan once worth ‘$25BILLION’ who sleeps four hours a night 

Sam Bankman-Fried

Sam Bankman-Fried, a vegan who sleeps four hours a night, had become a public face of crypto money, with a personal fortune estimated at nearly $25 billion, which according to Forbes magazine has since shrunk to $100,000.

The success of FTX allowed the platform to forge prestigious partnerships, notably with American football legend Tom Brady and former supermodel Gisele Bundchen, and it featured comedian Larry David in a Super Bowl television advertisement.

Almost always appearing with a hoodie and a dark T-shirt, Bankman-Fried has pledged to donate almost all of his fortune to his favored causes, like animal welfare and the fight against global warming.

The son of Stanford Law School professors and a graduate of the elite Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he worked as a broker on Wall Street before turning to cryptocurrencies in 2017.

Bankman-Fried moved the company to the Bahamas, where taxes are almost nonexistent, saying the Caribbean nation is ‘one of the few countries that has a comprehensive licensing regime for cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency exchanges.’

He has been a vocal advocate for smoother access to the crypto market for the general public, particularly in the United States.

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