FTX Co-Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Arrested in the Bahamas

Sam Bankman-Fried, the co-founder and former CEO of collapsed crypto exchange FTX, was arrested Monday in the Bahamas, the attorney general’s office for the Bahamas said in a statement.

The arrest came after the office was notified by the US that it’s filed criminal charges against Bankman-Fried and would likely seek extradition, the office said. Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, confirmed the arrest and said an indictment would likely be announced Tuesday, although it wasn’t immediately clear what the charges would be.

“Earlier this evening, Bahamian authorities arrested Samuel Bankman-Fried at the request of the US government, based on a sealed indictment filed by the SDNY,” Williams wrote in a tweet Monday afternoon. “We expect to move to unseal the indictment in the morning and will have more to say at that time.”

The US Securities and Exchange Commission also plans to file charges on Tuesday against Bankman-Fried related to violations of securities law, Gurbir Grewal, the federal regulatory agency director of enforcement, said in a companion tweet Monday evening.

Bankman-Fried, who’s better known as SBF, resigned as FTX’s CEO in November after the beleaguered cryptocurrency platform filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Bahamas-based exchange had been one of the biggest players in cryptocurrency, and Bankman-Fried renowned for his lobbying of politicians on both sides of the aisle, but its meltdown has raised doubts about cryptocurrency and has left customers wondering if they’ll ever get their money back. 

Revelations about the holdings and close relationship between FTX and Alameda Research — over a third of the assets on Alameda’s balance sheet were FTT tokens issued by FTX — last month triggered a cascading series of events that led Alameda to cease operations and FTX to file for bankruptcy protection. Billions in investors’ funds seemingly vanished overnight. 

“I was the CEO of FTX. That means I was responsible,” Bankman-Fried said during a live interview at the Dealbook Summit on Nov. 30. Bankman-Fried noted he “wouldn’t be surprised if sometime I am up there talking about what happened to our representatives.”

The US Department of Justice and other agencies are investigating allegations of fraud and mishandling of funds by FTX. Bankman-Fried has denied committing fraud or purposely misusing customer money.

The former face of crypto has been asked by US Rep. Maxine Waters, the chair of the House Financial Services committee, to testify at a hearing on the FTX debacle scheduled for Dec. 13. Bankman-Fried responded that he’s willing to testify but that he needed time to prepare.

Philip Davis, the Bahamas’ prime minister, said that while the US is pursuing criminal charges against SBF, the island nation where the exchange was based is also conducting its own criminal and regulatory investigations into FTX’s collapse.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Bankman-Fried had hired an attorney to represent him in the matter.

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