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FTX founder Bankman-Fried extradited to US: Official

Cryptocurrency entrepreneur was reportedly being flown from the Bahamas to the US, where he faces fraud charges.

Bahamian authorities said that former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has been extradited to the United States, where he faces criminal charges related to the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange.

Bahamas’s attorney general’s office said Bankman-Fried was be leaving for the US on Wednesday, noting he had waived his right to challenge the extradition.

Reporters witnessed Bankman-Fried leaving a magistrates court in Nassau in a dark SUV, with the vehicle later seen arriving at a private airfield by Nassau’s airport.

He is due to land in New York and will likely appear in front of a US judge on Thursday.

Bankman-Fried had consented to the extradition to the US, according to an affidavit his lawyer read at a court hearing in the Bahamas.

Bankman-Fried decided to agree to extradition in part out of a “desire to make the relevant customers whole”, according to the affidavit, read on Wednesday and dated Tuesday.

Bankman-Fried stepped up to the witness box and spoke clearly and steadily as he was sworn in earlier on Wednesday.

His defence lawyer said his client was “anxious to leave” and the hearing was adjourned after the statements.

Officials with the FBI and the US Marshals Service, which handles the transportation of people in US custody, have arrived in the Bahamian capital, Nassau, a person familiar with the matter said.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged 30-year-old cryptocurrency mogul Bankman-Fried with stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer assets to plug losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research, in what the US attorney for New York’s Southern District, Damian Williams, called “one of the biggest financial frauds in American history”.

Bankman-Fried was arrested on a US extradition request on December 13 in the Bahamas, where he lives and where FTX is based. He initially said he would contest extradition but Reuters and other news outlets reported over the weekend that he would reverse that decision.

Bankman-Fried’s US-based defence lawyer, Mark Cohen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan also declined to comment.

Bankman-Fried has acknowledged risk-management failures at FTX but said he does not believe he is criminally liable.

He rode a crypto boom to become a billionaire several times over, as well as an influential US political donor, before FTX’s crash wiped out his wealth and tarnished his reputation. The collapse was driven by a wave of customer withdrawals over concerns about the commingling of funds with Alameda.

The $32bn exchange declared bankruptcy on November 11 and Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO the same day.

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