Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has been arrested in the Bahamas after prosecutors in the United States filed criminal charges against the crypto entrepreneur.
The arrest marks an extraordinary fall for the 30-year-old crypto wunderkind, once worth an estimated $26.5bn, who attracted investors ranging from BlackRock to NFL star Tom Brady and was among the most well-connected and biggest political donors in Washington.
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Bankman-Fried was arrested by authorities in the Caribbean nation after US prosecutors notified them they had filed charges and would likely seek his extradition, the Office of the Attorney General of the Bahamas said in a statement on Monday.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York confirmed Bankman-Fried’s arrest but declined to comment on the nature of the charges.
“Earlier this evening, Bahamian authorities arrested Samuel Bankman-Fried at the request of the US Government, based on a sealed indictment filed by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York,” prosecutor Damian Williams said in a statement.
“We expect to move to unseal the indictment in the morning and will have more to say at that time.”
The charges against Bankman-Fried, who was once ranked as the world’s second-richest millennial after Mark Zuckerberg, include wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and money laundering, the New York Times reported, citing an unnamed source with knowledge of the matter.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission, which is responsible for civil enforcement and administrative actions, said it separately authorised charges related to Bankman-Fried’s alleged violations of securities laws.
In a statement, Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said his country and the US had a “shared interest” in holding accountable anyone who may have betrayed the public trust and broken the law.
“While the United States is pursuing criminal charges against SBF individually, The Bahamas will continue its own regulatory and criminal investigations into the collapse of FTX, with the continued cooperation of its law enforcement and regulatory partners in the United States and elsewhere,” Davis said.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bankman-Fried’s arrest came just hours after he said he would on Tuesday testify remotely about the collapse of FTX before the US Congress.
FTX, founded in 2019 and based in the Bahamas, filed for bankruptcy protection last month after the collapse of an acquisition deal involving rival exchange Binance. The collapse of the crypto exchange, valued at $32bn at its peak, sent shockwaves through the crypto sector, triggering mass layoffs, accusations of fraud and questions about the future of digital currencies as a whole.
Among other allegations of wrongdoing, FTX has been accused of using billions of dollars in customer funds to prop up Alameda, a trading company controlled by Bankman-Fried.
Bankman-Fried has admitted making a “lot of mistakes” in his handling of the collapse but denied any intention to commit fraud.