Sam Bankman-Fried is being extradited to the United States from his home in the Bahamas, to face a long list of charges related to the downfall of the crypto exchange he founded, FTX.
The 30-year-old is in FBI custody and on his way back to the United States, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, said in a video posted to Twitter late Wednesday. He will appear before a judge “as soon as possible,” Williams also said.
At the same time, two of Bankman-Fried’s one-time friends and co-workers – Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang — have pleaded guilty to fraud charges by the SDNY and are cooperating with its investigation, Williams said. Both have also been charged with defrauding investors by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the top Wall Street regulator, and are currently working with it in its investigation into Bankman-Fried, under the possibility of reaching a settlement with reduced penalties.
A spokesperson for Bankman-Fried declined to comment.
In a separate news release, however, the SEC alleged that Bankman-Fried and his colleagues planned to manipulate the price of FTT, an exchange crypto security token that was integral to FTX.
“When FTT and the rest of the house of cards collapsed, Mr. Bankman-Fried, Ms. Ellison, and Mr. Wang left investors holding the bag,” SEC chairperson Gary Gensler said in the release. “Until crypto platforms comply with time-tested securities laws, risks to investors will persist. It remains a priority of the SEC to use all of our available tools to bring the industry into compliance.”
A little more than a week ago, Bankman-Fried was arrested at his home in the Bahamas at the request of the U.S. government. He was charged for allegedly defrauding customers and investors, as well as money laundering and making illegal political campaign contributions. Regulators, meanwhile, revealed they are also investigating him for fraud.
His extradition has proven tricky. After saying he would fight his removal, he signaled earlier this week that he would agree to extradition. But a hearing on the extradition was scrapped over objections from his counsel. On Wednesday, Bankman-Fried agreed in court to be taken back to the United States, but the timing of his travel was unclear.