Former FTX boss Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail application denied by Bahamas

Disgraced founder of failed cryptocurrency exchange poses too big of a flight risk to be released, judge says

FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried is led away by police officers in Nassau, the Bahamas, on Tuesday. AFP
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Sam Bankman-Fried was denied bail by a judge in the Bahamas on Tuesday, leaving the disgraced co-founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX behind bars.

During his first court appearance since being arrested on Monday, Judge Joyann Ferguson-Pratt said Mr Bankman-Fried, 30, posed too big of a flight risk to be released.

His lawyer had proposed that his client pay $250,000 cash and wear an ankle bracelet to be allowed to leave his cell.

“Risk of flight is so great that Samuel Bankman-Fried ought to be remanded in custody,” she said.

“I am not satisfied that there is any condition that I could place in Samuel Bankman-Fried to sufficiently satisfy, because of his access to substantial finances, that he would not and could not abscond.”

An extradition hearing for Mr Bankman-Fried was set for February 8.

Earlier in the arraignment proceedings on Tuesday, his lawyer said that he would fight plans to send him to the US.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged Mr Bankman-Fried with eight criminal counts, including conspiracy and wire fraud, for allegedly misusing billions of dollars in customers’ funds before last month’s spectacular collapse of his cryptocurrency empire.

Dressed in a blue suit and white shirt for the arraignment proceedings, Mr Bankman-Fried at times appeared shaky and fidgety.

Watch: What is Bitcoin and how did it start?

His parents were present in the courtroom as their son was frequently referred to as a “fugitive”.

Mr Bankman-Fried’s need to take medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and allergies frequently came up during the proceedings, which spanned most of Tuesday.

At one point, the hearing was halted so he could take them because he missed doses after his arrest the night before.

After the judge announced that his bail would be denied, his mother hugged him with teary eyes.

Mr Bankman-Fried was allowed 15 minutes with his parents before he was taken away by authorities.

A court clerk said after the hearing that Mr Bankman-Fried wouldn’t be allowed regular visits due to Covid-19 protocols.

“That's so sad,” his father, Joseph Bankman-Fried, was overheard telling an onlooker about not being able to spend time with his son.

Cryptocurrencies — in pictures

The judge said that Mr Bankman-Fried would be taken to a Bahamas Department of Correctional Services prison, which is known commonly known as Fox Hill and is the government’s only prison.

Although it is unclear whether he will be held among the general population, a 2020 report from the US State Department painted a grim picture of the place.

The prison’s conditions were harsh due to overcrowding and poor ventilation, among other issues.

Updated: December 14, 2022, 5:55 AM