- The US Department of Justice will try Sam Bankman-Fried only on the initial charges filed last December.
- It will not proceed with the additional five charges it brought against him after his extradition from the Bahamas.
- The former FTX chief had earlier challenged the additional charges in court.
YEREVAN (CoinChapter.com) — In what comes as a major relief for Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), the US Justice Department has decided to try him solely on the original charges as of now.
Bankman-Fried, a former billionaire and founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was originally indicted on eight counts, including securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.
However, authorities added five other charges following his arrest and extradition from the Bahamas, bringing the total to 13.
No greenlight from the Bahamas to pursue fresh charges against SBF
In December 2022, authorities in the Bahamas arrested Sam Bankman-Friend after US prosecutors filed criminal charges against him. Subsequently, he was extradited to the United States to face the charges related to the collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange.
However, after his arrival, authorities, uncovering more evidence, added fresh counts against him. These include bank fraud, operating an unlicensed money transmitter, and bribery. The crypto entrepreneur’s legal team had challenged the additional charges, claiming that these were illegal.
In the pretrial motion in May 2023, Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers asked the court to dismiss new charges against him. They argued that the Department of Justice had filed them without following the legal procedure.
According to the terms of the extradition treaty between the Bahamas and the United States, local authorities need the consent of the Bahamas to press extra charges after extradition.
The authorities in the Caribbean island nation were initially inclined to allow US authorities to press these charges against Bankman-Fried. However, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that the defendant must have the right to challenge the approval in court legally.
This may only be a temporary relief for Sam Bankman-Fried
Meanwhile, US Attorney Damian Williams sent a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. According to him, the court battle in the Bahamas could extend until Bankman-Fried’s trial in the United States.
As a result, the Justice Department has decided to proceed with only the initial charges for now.
“In light of the uncertainty concerning when The Bahamas will render a decision with respect to specialty, and to simplify the proof at trial and decrease the burden of trial preparation on the defendant, the Government is prepared to proceed to trial as scheduled on the counts contained in the original Indictment,”the letter said.
In December 2022, despite the mounting evidence against him, SBF managed to get bail from the court. A part of the condition is that he would remain under house arrest in the $4 million home belonging to his parents. In January 2023, he pleaded “not guilty” to all charges.
While this is a major relief for Sam Bankman-Fried, he should not be too quick to celebrate. The DOJ may still add those new charges if the courts in the Bahamas allow the country’s Government to consent to the US authorities.