FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves US Federal Court in New York City on March 30, 2023.
Kyle Mazza | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Federal prosecutors asked a judge on Thursday to remove five charges against alleged crypto fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried, including bribery of a foreign government official, after a Bahamas court ruling cast doubt on whether the U.S. government had followed the correct procedure for bringing the charges against the former billionaire.
Bankman-Fried’s legal team had previously argued before both U.S. and Bahamanian judges that the charges were not part of the FTX founder’s original indictment under which he had been extradited from the Bahamas months earlier. A Bahamian judge said they would review Bankman-Fried’s arguments earlier this week, prompting the request from federal prosecutors.
The charges, however, have merely been “severed,” or punted to 2024, giving the federal government ample time to ensure the conditions of the U.S.-Bahamas extradition treaty have been met, and to satisfy concerns from the Bahamas government.
The severance means that Bankman-Fried’s legal team will likely now have to gird for two legal fights: one to try the original eight-count indictment later this year, and another in 2024, for the five counts that federal prosecutors have asked to sever.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams’ office is prosecuting Bankman-Fried. He was originally indicted on eight counts, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, over his role in allegedly orchestrating the theft of billions of dollars of customer assets and the collapse of crypto exchange FTX in late 2022.
Bankman-Fried has entered a plea of not guilty and is expected to be tried later this year.