NASSAU (Reuters) – Closed roads, a sweltering courtroom and numerous delays marked Sam Bankman Fried’s first in-person appearance since the collapse of his cryptocurrency company.
The court session in the Bahamas, which took place over the course of six hours, saw Bankman Fried, dressed in a suit rather than his traditional T-shirt attire, asking for bail to contest his extradition to the United States. United State.
It was a staggering fall from grace for the crypto boss, with Forbes once estimating him to be worth up to $26.5 billion.
“I’m not waiving,” Bankman-Fried said when asked if he would seek to waive his right to an extradition hearing.
It was a rare comment in a hearing that was largely dealt with by lawyers discussing the process. In another comment, Bankman-Fried referred to the night of his arrest as “hectic”.
There was great anticipation before the appearance of Bankman-Fried, who has given numerous media interviews since his company’s collapse but has not been widely seen in public.
The day began with Bankman-Fried entering the courthouse away from the main entrance and photographers and reporters swarming for a shot.
The Chief Justice of the Bahamas, Joy Ann Ferguson-Pratt, contributed witty insights that often left the courtroom laughing, once quipping “I wasn’t born yesterday” when defense attorneys interpreted the law.
Ferguson Pratt’s repeatedly forgetting the defendant’s last name led to laughter.
“Samuel,” she said before she was late, as the billionaire cryptocurrency mogul once mentioned her by his name: “Bankman Fried.”
People in the courtroom fanned themselves to keep cool in the tropical heat as the sun shone through the windows.
The hearing was adjourned twice, once to consult on the jurisdiction of the court to grant bail, and again in the afternoon.
It also included an extensive discussion of Bankman-Fried’s medications, which his lawyer said were for conditions including depression, insomnia and attention deficit disorder.
At the beginning of the proceedings, Bankman-Fried asked to change the Emsam patch, a medical tape placed on the skin and used to treat adult depression. He asked to leave the courtroom for a while to take medicine.
Bankman-Fried admitted that he did not take his medication with him when he was arrested, which he attributed to “an emotional night”.
His parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, sometimes seemed frustrated with the arguments put forward by the prosecution, which described him as a runaway risk.
Bankman-Fried’s defense attorney noted that Bankman-Fried spent weeks in the Bahamas after his business collapsed without attempting to leave the country.
At the end of the session, he lowered his head and hugged his parents. A van waited outside the court to pick him up.
Additional reporting by Jared Higgs in Nassau and Brian Ellsworth in Miami; Editing by Megan Davies, Nolene Walder and Sam Holmes
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