By Caden Pearson
The Bahamas attorney general’s office on Monday announced the arrest of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried pending extradition to the United States, weeks after his cryptocurrency exchange collapsed.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams confirmed the arrest at the request of the U.S. government in a statement on Twitter.
“Earlier this evening, Bahamian authorities arrested Samuel Bankman-Fried at the request of the U.S. Government, based on a sealed indictment filed by the SDNY. We expect to move to unseal the indictment in the morning and will have more to say at that time,” Williams said, referring to the Southern District of New York.
Bankman-Fried, 30, was arrested after the United States notified the Bahamas attorney general’s office that it had filed criminal charges against the infamous crypto billionaire and would likely request his extradition. It’s unclear what charges he’ll face.
Bahamas Attorney General Sen. Ryan Pinder said that Bankman-Fried had been arrested and detained under the Bahamas Extradition Act.
“At such time as a formal request for extradition is made, The Bahamas intends to process it promptly, pursuant to Bahamian law and its treaty obligations with the United States,” Pinder said in a statement.
Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said that the Bahamas and the United States share a common interest in holding responsible those people affiliated with FTX who may have betrayed the public trust and broken the law.
“While the United States is pursuing criminal charges against SBF individually, The Bahamas will continue its own regulatory and criminal investigations into the collapse of TX, with the continued cooperation of its law enforcement and regulatory partners in the United States and elsewhere,” Davis said.
Pinder stated that the Bahamas would “promptly” extradite Bankman-Fried to the United States once the indictment is unsealed and U.S. officials make a formal request.
Founded in 2019, FTX was one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges. The firm was valued at $32 billion at its peak, while Bankman-Fried’s net worth was estimated to be $26 billion.
Bankman-Fried was the second-largest individual Democrat donor, providing about $40 million in the 2022 election. He claims to have confidentially contributed “about the same amount” to Republicans to avoid press scrutiny.
FTX collapsed in November amid a liquidity problem exacerbated by larger rival Binance’s decision to withdraw from a prospective rescue arrangement.
Traders quickly withdrew billions from the platform, and the business eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Nov. 11. Millions of FTX users lost access to their crypto wallets.
Concerns have been raised about the $1 billion in client cash that appear to have vanished from the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange. Meanwhile, Bankman-Fried claims to only have $100,000 in his bank account and denies having any “hidden funds.”
Bankman-Fried told the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 8 that FTX customers deposited more than $5 billion in accounts of his trading company Alameda Research. But those funds are now gone, he said.
Those funds “were wired to Alameda, and … I can only speculate about what happened after that,” he said.
Bankman-Fried has stated that he did not engage in any fraudulent behavior and did not knowingly misuse funds.
Financial regulators and authorities in both the United States and the Bahamas are currently investigating the company’s collapse.
Bankman-Fried was expected to testify on FTX’s collapse via zoom before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. FTX donated more than $300,000 to nine members of the House Financial Services Committee.
Last week, House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) wrote that Bankman-Fried was “requested to testify” voluntarily but that a subpoena was “definitely on the table.”
Sens. Sherrod Brown of (D-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) also asked him to appear because of “significant unanswered questions” regarding the firm’s collapse.
“I still do not have access to much of my data—professional or personal. So there is a limit to what I will be able to say, and I won’t be as helpful as I’d like. But as the committee still thinks it would be useful, I am willing to testify on the 13th,” he wrote in response to Waters’s post on Twitter.
Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.