Prosecutors dropped criminal campaign finance charges against FTX owner Sam Bankman-Fried, due to a complication related to the U.S.’s extradition treaty with the Bahamas.
According to a Wednesday court filing by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams, the Bahamian government notified the U.S. that it did not intend to extradite Bankman-Fried on a charge of conspiracy to make unlawful campaign contributions, an accusation levied by U.S. prosecutors.
The charge was not included when American law enforcement had notified Bahamian authorities of their intention to prosecute Bankman-Fried in order to facilitate his arrest late last year, but was later included in indictments of the FTX co-founder and former CEO. The Bahamian government told U.S. authorities on Wednesday that it did not intend to extradite Bankman-Fried on the campaign finance charge, effectively telling prosecutors that going forward with that part of the indictment would violate the extradition treaty between the two countries. Under terms of the treaty U.S. authorities are obligated to communicate what they intend to charge in advance.
“Accordingly, in keeping with its treaty obligations to The Bahamas, the government does not intend to proceed to trial on the campaign contributions count,” Williams wrote the federal judge presiding over Bankman-Fried’s criminal proceeding.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers previously asked for a dismissal of most charges against him, including the campaign finance charge, over technicalities. Judge Lewis Kaplan, of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, declined to do so, but asked prosecutors to check if the Bahamas government agreed to the campaign finance allegation under terms of its extradition treaty with the U.S.
Prosecutors move forward with majority of charges
Prosecutors still plan to move forward with a majority of charges against Bankman-Fried, mainly centered around alleged fraud within FTX and the rest of the former billionaire’s failed crypto empire. If found guilty on all remaining charges the FTX and Alameda Research co-founder still faces possible decades in prison.
Bankman-Fried was one of the most prolific political donors in the U.S. during the 2020 and 2022 election cycles.
Earlier Wednesday Kaplan placed a temporary gag order on Bankman-Fried and his attorneys, barring them from discussing the case with media until an early August decision over whether the indicted crypto mogul will spend the rest of his time before an October criminal trial in jail due to possible violations of his bail terms.
Disclaimer: The former CEO and majority shareholder of The Block has disclosed a series of loans from former FTX and Alameda founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
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