In sweltering Bahamas courtroom, Bankman-Fried fights incarceration

NASSAU, Dec 13 (Reuters) – Cordoned-off roads, a sweltering courtroom and numerous delays marked Sam Bankman-Fried’s first in-person public appearance since his crypto company collapsed.

The Bahamas courtroom hearing, conducted over the course of six hours, saw Bankman-Fried, dressed in a suit rather than his typical t-shirt attire, seeking bail to dispute his extradition to the US He was ultimately refused and faces possible extradition to the United States.

It was a stunning fall from grace for the crypto boss, once estimated by Forbes as worth as much as $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 taken up with lawyers discussing process. In another comment, Bankman-Fried referred to the night of his arrest as “hectic.”

There was high anticipation ahead of the appearance by Bankman-Fried, who has done numerous media interviews since his firm collapsed but not been widely seen in public.

The day started with Bankman-Fried ushered into court away from the main entrance and photographers and reporters who crowded to get a shot.

Bahamas Chief Magistrate JoyAnn Ferguson-Pratt contributed witty asides that often left the courtroom chuckling, once quipping “I wasn’t born yesterday” at the defense counsel’s interpretation of the law.

Ferguson-Pratt’s repeatedly forgetting the defendant’s last name led to laughter.

“Samuel,” she said before trailing off, with the once-billionaire crypto magnate reminding her of his name: “Bankman-Fried.”

People in the courtroom fanned themselves to keep cool in the tropical heat as sun shone through the windows.

The hearing was adjourned twice, once to consult about the court’s jurisdiction to grant bail, and again in the afternoon.

It also included an extensive discussion of Bankman-Fried’s medication, which his lawyer said was for conditions including depression, insomnia and attention deficit disorder.

At the start of the proceedings, Bankman-Fried asked to change an Emsam patch, a medical strip applied to the skin that is used to treat adult depression. He asked to briefly leave the court room to take the medication.

Bankman-Fried acknowledged that he had not taken his medications with him when he was arrested, which he attributed to having had a “hectic night”.

His parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, at times seemed frustrated with the arguments made by the prosecution, which described him as a flight risk.

Bankman-Fried’s defense counsel pointed out that Bankman-Fried had spent weeks in The Bahamas after his business collapsed without attempting to leave the country.

At the end of the hearing, his head lowered, he hugged his parents. A van outside the court waited to take him away.

Reporting by Jared Higgs in Nassau and Brian Ellsworth in Miami; editing by Megan Davies, Noeleen Walder and Sam Holmes

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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