Sam Bankman-Fried arrest latest: FTX founder arrested in Bahamas as US debates fraud case

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Former FTX chief executive Samuel Bankman-Fried testifies before the US Senate on 9 February 2022

(Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Disgraced cryptocurrency baron Sam Bankman-Fried has been arrested in The Bahamas on behalf of the US government, officials said.

Prosecutors in New York City announced on Monday evening that Bankman-Fried, the former chief executive of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, had been arrested by local authorites on the basis of a sealed indictment from their office.

The attorney general of The Bahamas confirmed that in a letter, saying it was expecting a US extradiction request and would consider it in accordance with Bahamian law.

Fortune reported last week that US prosecutors were mulling fraud charges against Mr Bankman-Fried, and examining the financial transfers he made as FTX tipped into insolvency.

It comes after six weeks of financial chaos that took down the world’s third-larget cryptocurrency exchange and humbled its colourful 30-year-old founder, known as SBF.

Follow live updates on the case below.


‘Just like any crook’: Congress reacts to SBF arrest

US legislators have welcomed the decision to move forward with charges against Bankman-Fried.

“I applaud the Justice Department and the Bahamian authorities for holding Sam Bankman-Fried accountable,” said Sherrod Brown, chairman of the Senate banking committee.

“What happened at FTX appears to be good, old-fashioned fraud, and I’m glad prosecutors have been investigating what happened to ensure everyone who committed crimes is held accountable for what they did,” said Wyoming Republican Cynthia Lummis.

Democratic senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said it was right to hold corporate executives personally accountable for their companies’ actions, adding: “Crypto executives who break the law are just like any other crooks.”

Some Republicans reacted more sceptically. “What took so long?” groused Greg Steube, a Republican House member representing Florida.

“In what world does a federal prosecutor indict someone scheduled to testify under oath before Congress? Many questions to ask,” said South Carolina’s William Timmons.

For the avoidance of doubt, SBF is innocent until proven guilty.

Io Dodds13 December 2022 02:05


What SBF hoped to testify about

Prior to this arrest, Bankman-Fried had been scheduled to testimony before the US Congress tomorrow.

“I had thought of myself as a model CEO, who wouldn’t become lazy or disconnected. Which made it that much more destructive when I did,” he added. “I’m sorry. Hopefully people can learn from the difference between who I was and who I could have been.”

Io Dodds13 December 2022 01:48


AOC says arrest will prevent Congress testimony

US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said the arrest will prevent Bankman-Fried from testifying before Congress, while applauding authorities’ action.

“Bankman-Fried was set to testify before the House tomorrow. Tonight he was arrested,” said the Democratic House member, who is also known by a three-letter acronym as AOC.

“While I am disappointed we will not have the opportunity to present our line of questioning, we look forward to more information coming to light and justice being served in this case.”

Io Dodds13 December 2022 01:33


Lawyers ‘surprised’ by sudden arrest

Lawyers involved in SBF’s case were surprised by the swiftness of the arrest, according to The New York Times, especially since he was due to testify before Congress only the next day.

Financial Times journalist Kadhim Shubber, a specialist in financial fraud and cryptocurrency, said the arrest had proved wrong people who accused the US Department of Justice of sloth in the case.

Io Dodds13 December 2022 01:23


‘I don’t think I will be arrested’

The arrest comes mere hours after Bankman-Fried proclaimed in a panel discussion: “I don’t think I will be arrested.”

That failed prediction came during a Twitter Spaces audio panel on Monday attended by more than 19,000 people, according to The New York Post, in which SBF’s mouse could be heard rapidly clicking as he played video games in the background.

He also said that he would testify before Congress remotely on Tuesday, rather than in person, because he is “quite overbooked” and worried about “paparazzi”.

Io Dodds13 December 2022 01:11


Bahamas prime minister weighs in

Along with the attorney general’s statement came this from Bahamian prime minister Philip Davis:

“The Bahamas and the United States have a shared interest in holding accountable all individuals associated 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 FTX, with the continued cooperation of its law enforcement and regulatory partners in the United States and elsewhere.”

Io Dodds13 December 2022 01:00


What the Bahamian government says

Here’s the full letter from the Bahamian government, courtesy of Wall Street Journal reporter Anthony DeRosa.

“On 12 December 2022, the Office of the Attorney General of The Bahamas is announcing the arrest by the Royal Bahamas Police Force of Sam Bankman-Fried (‘SBF’), former CEO of FTX,” the letter says.

“SBF’s arrest followed receipt of formal notification from the United States that it has filed criminal charges against SBF and is likely to request his extradition.

“As a result of the notification received and the material provided therewith, it was deemed apprpriate for the Attorney General to seek SBF’s arrest, and hold him in custody pursuant to our nation’s Extradition Act.

“At such time as a formal request for extradition is made, The Bahamas intends to process it properly, pursuant to Bahamian law and its treaty obligations with the United States.”

Io Dodds13 December 2022 00:53


SBF needs a lawyer

Disgraced cryptocurrency entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried has been arrested in The Bahamas at the reqest of US authorities.

The move appears to corroborate – in dramatic fashion – a report by Fortune last week that US prosecutors were mulling fraud charges against the wild-haired former chief executive, known as SBF.

We’ll bring you more live updates as soon as we have them.

Io Dodds13 December 2022 00:43

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