Analysis: After a day of courtroom bickering and confusion, SBF is coming home



Jerone Roberts, the attorney representing Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas, confirmed that SBF’s next court appearance will be to complete the extradition process and is expected to happen this week — likely Tuesday.

Here’s the deal: All signs pointed to a swift extradition to the US after people familiar with SBF’s plans said he intended to abandon his fight against returning to the US.

But at Monday’s hearing in Nassau, the mood was pure chaos.

The tl;dr version: It seems that SBF’s US lawyers worked out an agreement with Bahamian prosecutors to drop the extradition fight, which would have taken months, if not years, to play out.

But SBF’s local defense lawyer, Roberts, said he wasn’t included in that plan, and claimed prosecutors wouldn’t share the US indictment with him. Prosecutor Franklyn Williams dismissed Roberts’ accusation, saying that it was “not to be believed.”

A representative for SBF’s American lawyers told me it was “tough to give specifics while relying on the Bahamian courts.

At the end of the hearing, the understandably frustrated magistrate judge cleared the courtroom so that Bankman-Fried could call his US attorneys with his Bahamian attorney present.

KEY CONTEXT

SBF had initially planned to fight efforts to return him to the United States. He has repeatedly denied knowingly defrauding customers, while admitting to managerial mistakes at FTX, his crypto exchange, and Alameda, its sister trading house (both of which are now bankrupt).

But then he was denied bail in the Bahamas, meaning he wouldn’t be able to fight extradition from the comfort of his luxury home. Instead, he’d have to stay in the country’s notorious Fox Hill prison — a place the US State Department has described as overcrowded, dirty and lacking medical care. Its crowded cells often lack mattresses and are “infested with rats, maggots, and insects,” according to a recent report. Toilet access is, at times, nonexistent.

After a week of that, SBF is ready to face the music on US soil.

To be sure, the federal detention facility in Brooklyn where SBF could end up while awaiting trial isn’t exactly the Ritz. Inmates, lawyers and human rights advocates say the conditions inside that facility are also inhumane, citing overcrowding, frequent loss of heating and poor sanitary conditions overall. But he could also make another attempt at bail before a US court… It seems either of those options are preferable to an interminable stay at Fox Hill.  

NUMBER OF THE DAY: $520 MILLION

Epic Games, maker of the hit video game “Fortnite,” will pay a record $520 million to settle US government allegations that it tricked millions of players, including children and teens, into making unintended purchases and that it violated a children’s privacy law.

It is the largest fine the Federal Trade Commission has ever imposed, the agency said Monday.

SPEAKING OF CHAOS…

Well, the votes are in: Twitter users think Elon Musk should step down as CEO of the platform, according to a (highly unscientific) survey of Musk’s followers.

57.5% of respondents said yes, Musk should step down, while, 42.5% voted no. Musk did say he would abide by the results, though as of this typing he hadn’t said whether he was stepping down or indicated who might replace him.

For those keeping track at home: It’s now been two chaotic months of Musk-era Twitter. In that time, Musk has:

  • Laid off about half of Twitter’s staff.
  • Given an ultimatum to the remaining staff that they need to do “extremely hardcore” work or leave.
  • Fired employees who disagreed with him and publicly shamed former employees who were engaged in difficult moderation discussions as part of the “Twitter Files.”
  • Started, stopped and then restarted a revised user-verification system that costs $8 a month for a blue check.
  • Frequently changed Twitter’s rules by executive fiat and with no notice, banning people who violate the new rules — including several tech journalists and an account that tracked his jet.
  • Spread a conspiracy theory about the violent attack on Paul Pelosi.
  • Welcomed back some of the platform’s permanently banned accounts, including former President Donald Trump and at least one prominent neo-Nazi.
  • Rolled out and then promptly retreated on a policy that would prevent users from sharing links to other social media on Twitter.

In summary: Musk appears to be making it up as he goes along.

That’s not very reassuring for advertisers, which make up the vast majority of Twitter’s revenue. The company is on pace to lose $4 billion a year thanks to an advertiser exodus, estimates Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities.

A successor won’t be easy to find. One of Musk’s first orders of business as CEO was to gut Twitter’s C-suite — the executive ranks who would, in normal times, be natural candidates for the top job.

“No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” Musk tweeted. “The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive.”

And even if he recruits externally, you’d need an iron stomach to take the helm of the financially and reputationally damaged social media platform, which Musk bought for $44 billion. Any new CEO will still have to answer to Musk, the sole board director.

RELATED: Elon Musk’s management of Twitter has “severely damaged” market sentiment around Tesla, and risks sparking a backlash from advertisers and consumers, a Wall Street analyst warned.

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