FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s failure to secure release on bail in the Bahamas on Tuesday increases the likelihood that he will consent to extradition to the United States to face fraud charges, legal experts said.
A judge ordered Bankman-Fried to be held at the Bahamas Department of Corrections until at least Feb. 8, citing his “great” risk of flight after New York federal prosecutors unveiled charges against him over the collapse of his once high-flying crypto exchange, FTX.
Before his bail was denied, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer said his client was not waiving his right to extradition proceedings. Experts said that if he resists removal, the process could take up to a full year of hearings and appeals, with very little chance of success at the end.
Fox Hill Prison is the name of the Fox Hill Prison where Bankman-Fried is held. Bankman-Fried’s lawyer did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Extradition lawyers specialize in encouraging defendants to consent that they be transferred back to their home countries.
“The extradition process can take a year or longer,” said David Haas, a U.S. lawyer who has defended people facing extradition. “Usually people don’t want to sit in a jail overseas. That tends to be a major factor in whether someone challenges extradition.”
A Bahamian corrections official said on Tuesday that Bankman-Fried will initially be held in the facility’s medical department until staff determine the appropriate place for him. Bankman-Fried is due to appear in front of another Bahamian magistrate on February 8.
As with most extradition treaties the U.S. – Bahamas agreement requires that all alleged offenses are considered crimes in both of their countries. Attorneys said that Bankman-Fried will not convince a Bahamian court to find out whether the wire fraud and securities fraud he is accused of are legal in the Bahamas.
“Bahamian law generally reflects American law in these matters,” said white-collar criminal defense attorney Jack Sharman. “I wouldn’t expect differences in the law to be a big extradition problem.”
Bankman-Fried might also claim that he would not be afforded a fair trial in the United States and would be subject to unjust punishment.
This has allowed some defendants to delay extradition. Most notably, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, has fought extradition from the UK and the United States for years to face charges of leaking classified military intelligence.
But U.S. prosecutors have recently won favorable rulings in Assange’s extradition proceedings by offering assurances that he would be kept safe in custody. Haas stated that the U.S. and Bahamian authorities might broker a similar deal.
“There’s usually a diplomatic component. This is all handled through treaties,” Haas said.
(Reporting from Jack Queen in New York Editing: Amy Stevens, Matthew Lewis