Prisoners faced rodents and a lack of toilets in the Bahamas detention center where Sam Bankman-Fried will be held, according to a 2021 U.S. State Department report, though local authorities says conditions have since improved.
The 30-year-old Bankman-Fried arrived at a Bahamas court on Tuesday for his first in-person public appearance since the spectacular collapse of cryptocurrency exchange he founded.
He did not waive a hearing on his extradition to the United States to face charges of misappropriating funds and violating campaign laws, apparently in hopes of obtaining bail, but was instead remanded to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services until Feb. 8 by Chief Magistrate JoyAnn Ferguson-Pratt.
Bahamian Commissioner of Correctional Services Doan Cleare said preparations were being made for him to be housed in the medical department. That would mean he will be in a sick bay that can hold about five people, Cleare said.
“He will be in sick bay for orientation purposes and then we will determine where best to place him,” Cleare said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
The U.S. State Department in a 2021 report described conditions at the facility, also known as Fox Hill Prison, as “harsh,” citing overcrowding, rodent infestation and prisoners relying on buckets as toilets.
Cleare said on Tuesday that prison conditions have greatly improved thanks to a renovation program that has built new cells.
“The facilities, most of them have been renovated,” Cleare said. “We have one more to go and we don’t have any issues with rodents.”
Larry Levine, the founder of Wall Street Prison Consultants, which advises those convicted of white collar crimes on how to get into better prisons, said that Bankman-Fried should not fight extradition.
“There is no advantage to him staying, he’ll be sent to the U.S. eventually anyway,” Levine said.
U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday accused Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of crypto currency exchange FTX, of fraud and violating campaign finance laws, saying he made illegal campaign contributions to Democrats and Republicans with “stolen customer money.”
Mark S. Cohen, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, said in a statement that his client was considering all of his legal options.
Bankman-Fried has apologized to customers and acknowledged oversight failings at FTX, but said he does not personally think he has any criminal liability. (Reporting by Jasper Ward in Washington and Brad Brooks in Texas; Editing by Megan Davies, Noeleen Walder and Sam Holmes)