In his short career as a cryptocurrency mogul, Sam Bankman-Fried walked the halls of power in Washington, testifying in front of Congress and courting officials at the White House.
On Tuesday, his fate was in the hands of a judge in the Bahamas, who oversaw a hearing on the disgraced executive’s future at a pink courthouse in Nassau, the country’s capital. Eschewing his usual disheveled outfit of shorts and a T-shirt, Mr. Bankman-Fried arrived in court wearing a white shirt and a blue suit, after his arrest the night before.
At the end of a hearing that lasted more than three hours, the judge denied bail to Mr. Bankman-Fried, who will remain in the custody of the Bahamian authorities. The chief magistrate, Joyann Ferguson-Pratt, said Mr. Bankman-Fried’s access to financial resources made his risk of fleeing “so great” that he had to remain behind bars.
As the courtroom was cleared, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s parents, the Stanford Law School professors Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, were allowed a moment to give him a long hug.
Mr. Bankman-Fried had arrived at the courthouse around 11 a.m. with a heavy police escort. His parents sat in the rear of the courtroom.
The proceedings focused largely on whether Mr. Bankman-Fried would be released on bail.
A Bahamian prosecutor, Franklyn Williams, said that Mr. Bankman-Fried was a flight risk and should be held in custody, arguing that the FTX founder still had access to sufficient financial resources to make an escape. A lawyer for Mr. Bankman-Fried, Jerone Roberts, responded that Mr. Bankman-Fried was a permanent resident and property owner in the Bahamas, with no incentive to flee the country. “This is not a vacation home,” Mr. Roberts said.
Mr. Roberts added that Mr. Bankman-Fried had decided to remain in the Bahamas to “fix things” even as his company collapsed, showing that he had no intention to leave. As the exchange over bail unfolded, Ms. Fried clenched her jaw and chewed on the frames of her glasses, muttering inaudibly as the prosecutor argued that Mr. Bankman-Fried might leave the Bahamas.
As he argued to the judge, Mr. Roberts explained that Mr. Bankman-Fried would be willing to submit to a curfew and electronic monitoring. He also detailed his client’s medical history, saying that Mr. Bankman-Fried takes medication for depression, as well as doses of Adderall every four hours for attention deficit disorder.
After Ms. Ferguson-Pratt rejected the bail request, Mr. Bankman-Fried appeared to remain calm, resting his head on his parents’ shoulders as they embraced in the courtroom.
He was turned over to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8.