Sam Bankman-Fried braced to be taken into US custody Wednesday night as officials prepared to fly the founder of failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX to America to face charges of fraud.
The alleged fraudster signed documents agreeing to be extradited from the Bahamas, where he was arrested last week following the implosion of digital currency company FTX.
The request to bring him to the US was approved by a Nassau court judge, paving the way for a series of criminal charges.
Bankman-Fried, 30, was held at Her Majesty’s Prison Fox Hill in Nassau after being denied bail. The US authorities had requested his extradition on charges of telephony fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. He had initially suggested that he would fight the attempt to remove him to the US.
On Wednesday, Mr Bankman-Fried’s lawyers confirmed he had agreed to his extradition out of a “desire to make the relevant clients well”.
The collapse of $32 billion cryptocurrency exchange FTX on November 11 left more than a million creditors out of pocket.
Mr. Bankman-Fried is accused by the US authorities of large-scale fraud involving customer money. Mr Bankman-Fried is said to have used deposits on his offshore cryptocurrency exchange to fund risky bets at a hedge fund, ultimately leaving an $8 billion black hole in his accounts.
He faces a prison sentence of more than 100 years. Mr. Bankman-Fried denies wrongdoing.
The former billionaire crypto entrepreneur donated tens of millions of dollars to Democratic politicians and made huge charitable donations.
He claimed to be an adherent of “effective altruism”, aiming to earn as much money as possible to give to charity.
Officials from the FBI and US Marshals Service had arrived in the Bahamas on Wednesday with the intention of taking Bankman-Fried on a private flight to the US, although it was not immediately clear when he would depart, Reuters reported. If extradited, Mr. Bankman-Fried could get another chance to plead for bail.
Bankman-Fried entered the courthouse in Nassau on Wednesday, handcuffed and escorted by police, wearing a dark suit and white shirt. His lawyer, Jerone Roberts, said he was “eager to leave and if it happens today, that’s fine,” the Nassau Guardian reported.
After a hearing that confirmed he would be extradited, he was taken back into custody awaiting transfer late Wednesday.