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Sam Bankman-Fried agreed to his extradition to the US Monday to face charges he defrauded investors to the tune of $1.8 billion.
“Mr. Bankman-Fried wishes to put the customers right, and that is what has driven his decision,” said Jerone Roberts, the former CEO’s Bahamian defense attorney.
Roberts said the voluntary decision by the alleged crypto grifter was against “the strongest possible legal advice,” the New York Times reported.
It came after a confusing day of court hearings and week-long effort by Bankman-Fried to stay in the Bahamas, where he is currently in custody.
The embattled former CEO of FTX appeared before a court in Nassau Monday morning on the heels of widespread reports he’d agree to extradition, catching Roberts by surprise.
The attorney called the Monday hearing “shocking” and “premature,” and said he had been completely unaware of Bankman Fried’s plan to waive his right to an extradition hearing.
“Whatever trail that got him here this morning, it did not involve me,” Roberts said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Magistrate Shaka Serville adjourned the court for a short time so Roberts and Bankman-Fried could confer.
Lead prosecutor Franklyn Williams called the hearing a waste of time, according to local reports.
Serville, presiding over the court Monday, agreed, calling the day “wasted” as he remanded Bankman-Fried to jail amid the confusion — hours before the onetime billionaire’s apparent change of heart.
The embattled FTX chairman has been held at the island nation’s notorious Fox Hill Prison, which is reportedly overrun with rats and maggots and has been slammed by human rights officials as offering inadequate medical and sanitary conditions to inmates.
Last Tuesday he asked to be let out of the jail citing his vegan diet and apparent ADD diagnosis. His attorney proposed a $250,000 cash bail, which was denied after prosecutors argued he posed a flight risk.
He made a second pitch for bail Thursday after a magistrate judge in the Caribbean country ordered Bankman-Fried remanded pending his potential extradition to the US, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Bankman-Fried is accused of playing a key role in the quick collapse of FTX and illegally using investors’ money to buy real estate on behalf of himself and his family. The case is being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York.
He faces a maximum of 115 years in prison if convicted.
Federal prosecutors at the Manhattan court declined to comment Monday, and Bankman-Fried’s US defense attorney did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Additional reporting by Ben Feuerherd