Bankman-Fried asks judge to dismiss post-extradition charges
Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried asked a judge to dismiss several criminal charges against him, arguing prosecutors improperly filed the additional counts after his extradition from the Bahamas.
The 31-year-old, accused of orchestrating a multibillion-dollar fraud through his once bustling cryptocurrency exchange, filed a series of motions in Manhattan federal court on Monday. His lawyers asked US District Judge Lewis Kaplan to throw out a campaign finance violation charge because the Bahamian government didn’t sign off on it when it green lit his extradition to the US in December.
Bankman-Fried’s legal team also argued that fresh charges filed against the FTX co-founder are invalid because prosecutors didn’t get proper consent from Bahamian authorities.
“Mr. Bankman-Fried consented to be tried only on the charges in the original indictment for which the government of the Bahamas agreed to extradition,” his attorneys wrote in the filings.
Weeks after FTX filed for bankruptcy, Bankman-Fried was arrested in Nassau, where he had been living and running FTX. US prosecutors allege the MIT graduate ran a yearslong scheme to defraud investors and misused customer funds, including to purchase property and drive trading activity through crypto hedge fund Alameda Research.
After Manhattan federal prosecutors asked Bahamian authorities to arrest him, Bankman-Fried consented to simplified extradition to the US, avoiding a potentially drawn out legal battle. But his lawyers argue he still retained his rights under extradition law, which they claim meant he couldn’t be tried on charges beyond those to which he agreed to be extradited.
According to his attorneys, the Bahamian government signed off on Bankman-Fried’s warrant of surrender but it didn’t include count 8 — a campaign finance law violation charge. Bankman-Fried was charged with that count when he arrived in the US, along with several other counts of fraud. Prosecutors have since filed two superseding indictments in the case, taking the number of charges Bankman-Fried faces to 13.
“After Mr. Bankman-Fried returned to this country, the government superseded the original indictment, not once but twice, improperly adding several new, unrelated charges without first obtaining the express consent of the Bahamian government,” his attorneys wrote.
Prosecutors have been notifying authorities in the Bahamas before unsealing the superseding indictments, court filings show.
Bankman-Fried is also seeking to compel FTX’s new management to turn over documents to him. His attorneys filed several emails exchanged between US prosecutors running the FTX investigation and Sullivan & Cromwell lawyers who were hired to assist with the company’s restructuring.
FTX’s new CEO, John Jay Ray, and the company’s attorneys have “acted as a public mouthpiece for the government by continuing to make disparaging remarks” about Bankman-Fried and have assumed the role of prosecutor by labelling him the villain, his lawyers said.
“The government has effectively deputised Mr. Ray, the FTX debtors, and their counsel as federal agents to review and synthesise the evidence for them,” the lawyers wrote.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is scheduled to face trial in October. BM/DM