Bahamas Court Grants Bankman-Fried’s Motion Against Post-Extradition Charges, Extending Trial Uncertainty

Bahamas court on Tuesday temporarily barred the country’s government from agreeing to let U.S. prosecutors pursue part of their criminal case against Sam Bankman-Fried.

By Staff

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A recent ruling by a Bahamas court has temporarily prevented the country’s government from consenting to U.S. prosecutors pursuing additional criminal charges against Sam Bankman-Fried, the indicted founder of the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

The move comes after U.S. federal prosecutors in Manhattan threatened to drop five charges of foreign bribery, bank fraud, and conspiracy against Bankman-Fried if the Bahamas did not comply with their request. These charges were not initially included in Bankman-Fried’s original eight-count indictment from last December, which primarily focused on the collapse of FTX. However, they were later appended following his extradition, as FTX was headquartered in the Bahamas.

According to Reuters, the Bahamas Supreme Court has now stated that the country’s foreign affairs minister and the attorney general cannot consent to the new charges until Bankman-Fried has an opportunity to formally object. Justice Loren Klein acknowledged that Bankman-Fried’s concerns had a reasonable chance of success.

This ruling introduces additional uncertainty regarding whether Bankman-Fried’s scheduled trial on October 2 will encompass all 13 charges he currently faces. Bankman-Fried, 31, maintains his plea of not guilty.

In recent court filings on Monday, Bankman-Fried’s legal team sought to dismiss a sixth charge related to U.S. campaign finance violations, arguing that the Bahamas had not consented to it. Furthermore, they requested that the six charges be either dismissed or tried separately from the allegations of customer theft, investor deception, and lender fraud.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers stated, “To proceed otherwise would cause significant prejudice to Mr. Bankman-Fried and should not be permitted.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment on Tuesday regarding the matter.

According to the extradition treaty between the United States and the Bahamas, the host country must grant consent before defendants can be prosecuted for charges introduced after their extradition.

Additionally, Bankman-Fried has raised objections to some of the original charges, asserting that they rely on a now-invalidated fraud theory known as “right to control,” which was deemed invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court last month. This theory allows for the conviction of a defendant for depriving someone of economically valuable information, beyond tangible property.

Prosecutors argue that this theory does not apply to Bankman-Fried’s case. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan is expected to hear arguments on Thursday regarding these developments.

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