Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of failed crypto exchange FTX, was arrested in the Bahamas on Monday after US prosecutors filed criminal charges against him, according to a Bahamas government statement.
The Southern District of New York, which is investigating the collapse of Banman-Fried and FTX and its sister company Alameda, confirmed the arrests on Twitter.
“This evening, Bahamian authorities arrested Samuel Bankman-Fried at the request of the US government based on an indictment sealed by SDNI,” wrote US Attorney Damian Williams. “We will move to open the case in the morning and we expect to have more to say at that time.”
Bankman-Fried was arrested without incident at his home in Nassau around 6 p.m. and is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, the Royal Bahamas Police Force said in a statement.
A representative for Bankman-Fried’s legal team did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
After confirming the arrest of SDNY, the Securities and Exchange Commission He said he had permission. Various charges related to Bankman-Fried’s “violation of securities laws” will be officially opened on Tuesday.
It’s unclear what kind of lawsuit Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old crypto star, faces, as his firm suffered liquidity problems and filed for bankruptcy, leaving at least one million depositors without access to their money.
The charges against Bankman-Fried include wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and money laundering, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The United States’ treaty with the Bahamas allows U.S. prosecutors to extradite defendants to American soil if the charges are punishable by at least one year in prison in both jurisdictions.
In the four weeks since FTX filed for bankruptcy, Banman-Fried has denied allegations that he defrauded FTX’s customers and has sought to out-skate himself as a disgruntled CEO.
He told the BBC at the weekend: “I did not knowingly commit fraud. “I didn’t want this to happen. Of course I wasn’t as fit as I thought.
Bankman-Fried was scheduled to appear before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, which is investigating how the company collapsed and the entire digital asset ecosystem is collapsing. Several crypto companies have gone out of business, frozen customer accounts, and sometimes filed for bankruptcy themselves due to exposure to FTX.
After her arrest, the committee’s chairwoman, Representative Maxine Waters, said Banman-Fried would not testify on Tuesday. The trial was ordered to move forward, beginning with testimony from FTX’s new CEO, John J. Ray III, who took over for Bankman-Fried on Nov. 11 and is tasked with overseeing the bankruptcy process.
“While we are sorry to hear from Mr. Banman-Fried tomorrow, we are committed to finding out what happened,” Waters said in a statement Monday night.
Rey paints a picture of a crypto empire with no corporate controls yet and a shocking lack of cash and other record keeping.
“The scope of the ongoing investigation is enormous,” Ray said in comments released before his testimony on Monday.
While the investigation is incomplete, Ray said, FTX’s failure appears to stem from a concentration of power “in the hands of very inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals” who failed to implement any corporate controls.
“FTX.com’s client assets are integrated with Alameda’s trading platform assets,” Ray said. That’s a key issue for investigators, as FTX and Alameda are, on paper, separate entities.
Bankman-Fried has denied knowingly raising funds and has sought to distance himself from the day-to-day management of Alameda, which has created several high-risk business strategies such as arbitrage and “farming,” aka investments in digital tokens that pay. Interest-like rewards, according to the Wall Street Journal.
He admitted to improperly controlling FTX and not paying enough attention to risk.
“Look, I’m broke,” he told The New York Times late last month. I was the CEO of FTX… I was in charge.
Bankman-Fried acknowledged the lack of corporate governance and risk management in the businesses he oversees.
“At FTX, there was no one who was primarily managing the risk of customer placement,” Banman-Fried told Dealbook. “And that’s a shame in retrospect.”
One of the key questions surrounding the FTX collapse stemmed from a Reuters report last month that Bahnmann-Fried built a “back door” into FTX’s accounting system that allowed him to alter the company’s financial records without tripping up red flags. The report says Bankman-Fried used this “back door” to transfer $10 billion of FTX client funds to Alameda, and at least $1 billion is now missing.
Bankman-Fried denied knowledge of such a backdoor. “I don’t even know how to code,” he told cryptocurrency vlogger Tiffany Fong in an interview last month.