Heads of Government from Caribbean nations and regional leaders including John Kerry, US special presidential envoy for climate change and Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, are in the Bahamas to attend 44th CARICOM meeting where Prime Minister Philip Davis serves as Chair of the Conference.
High on the agenda are discussions on Haiti, migration and food security.
“The turmoil and suffering there (Haiti) continue to worsen,” Davis said at the opening ceremony on Wednesday night. “As a near neighbour, The Bahamas is under great strain, and many other countries in our region are also heavily impacted.”
“We should learn from the failures of past efforts to help, rather than use those disappointments as an excuse for inaction. I pray that we can agree a series of concrete steps to help move towards a solution for the Haitian people, and the region as a whole.”
On Thursday, Orange County Police found the body of 29-year-old Joanna Gomez-Simo, who is a Bahamian living in Orlando, Florida.
The police were called to the home for a welfare check when family members reported that they were unable to reach her. Her boyfriend Pierre Floriant, 41, allowed authorities inside the Pointe Vista Apartments where they found the pregnant woman strangled to death in her bedroom where she lived with her four children.
Police have since arrested Floriant and charged him with murder.
What happened the day Joanna Gomez-Simo was found dead
It is not known when she was strangled to death but her phone went unanswered for days. She was found with a blanket covering her body as Floriant stayed in the home.
After the murder, he dropped off their 6-month-old child for someone to keep for the night then returned to the apartment. And when the police arrived to investigate the home after a welfare complaint was made, he opened the door to permit them inside where they found the woman, who was 20 weeks pregnant, already dead.
Floriant said he believed Gomez-Simo was cheating on him and he did not want the baby.
Pierre Floriant abused Joanna Gomez-Simo before her death
Floriant has a history of domestic abuse stemming from December of last year when he punched Gomez-Simo in the stomach and neck to abort the baby. Because she refused he said, “he would perform the abortion himself,” she reported to the police before her death.
She had reached out to the police for help in times past when she wished to pursue criminal charges against Floriant. She was recently named as a victim in a Domestic Violence Aggravated Battery case involving Floriant as the defendant.
But Gomez-Simo moved out of state and was no longer in fear for her life so she dropped the charges against him.
The prosecution office said despite her desire to drop the case, it continued to investigate the matter but stated there was insufficient evidence to move forward with criminal charges and prove the case “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Gomez-Simo admitted to police that there were two other cases that were unreported where Floriant abused her.
What are the charges?
Floriant confessed to the killing and is charged with 1st-degree murder and the killing of an unborn child.
Sam Bankman Fried, former FTX CEO was sent back to prison today after some apparent confusion at his court hearing. It was expected that he would appear in the Bahamas court today to be extradited to the United States. However, when he arrived, no one seemed to know that he was coming.
The Daily Mail reported that the 30-year-old tapped his foot nervously and clenched and unclenched his hands before the judge arrived.
After the judge’s arrival, his lawyer Jeron Roberts told the court, “I did not request him to be here this morning.”
It is reported that Prosecutor Frankly Williams seemed surprised too, stating that the government of the Bahamas neither the government of the United States knew that Bankman-Fried would appear before a judge today.
“We are here for a certain purpose,” he said, then asked if Bankman-Fried can “tell us why he is here.”
The court was adjourned for 45 minutes for Roberts to speak with Bankman-Fried on the sidelines.
After the adjournment, Bankman-Fried was sent back to the Bahamas Department of Corrections, and no final decision was made regarding his extradition.
Sources familiar with the matter said over the weekend, that the fallen crypto genius would appear in court on Monday to willfully return to the US after a short stint at the correctional facility.
His extradition to the US means he could be sentenced to an estimated 115 years in prison. US prosecutors accused him of “one of the biggest financial frauds in US history.”
Bankman-Fried was initially expected to return to court for a bail hearing on January 7 and an extradition hearing on February 8.
The Sam Bankman-Fried saga is getting worse and he is now facing a slew of charges in the US after his arrest and a request for extradition was filed in the Bahamas. His criminal charges range from fraud to money laundering while the Bahamas conducts its own investigations after the implosion of FTX, the world’s second-largest crypto exchange.
But before he is extradited, Bankman-Fried must appear before a Bahamas court for proceedings and waive his rights to be extradited.
What is extradition and what is the agreement between the Bahamas and the US?
Extradition is when one country hands over a suspect to face trial for alleged crimes.
It is a process and the circumstances were established by a treaty signed in 1990.
Whenever the US wants to put a suspect before its court, its prosecutors ask the Bahamas government.
The suspect is sent to a Bahamas court where the judge examines the request made and is convinced that the suspect is indeed wanted by the USA.
The judge does not need an admission of guilt by the suspect. In this case, the US only needs to explain to the Bahamas court that there is a case that Bankman-Fried needs to answer.
What is Sam Bankman-Fried Accused of?
Eight charges were levied against the 30-year-old crypto genius: Conspiracy to commit wire fraud on customers, wire fraud on customers, conspiracy to commit wire fraud on lenders, wire fraud on lenders, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States and violation of campaign finance laws.
Before the charges were filed, Bankman-Fried denied he defrauded investors in media interviews and chalked up losses to accounting errors.
But today, a South District New York Court stated that he defrauded investors in “good old fashion embezzlement,” and described it as “a house of cards” that crumbled. Customers lost $8 billion said Gretchen Lowe of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Can Sam Bankman-Fried refuse to be extradited?
Bankman-Fried plans to put up a fight to avoid extradition by not waiving his rights.
If Bankman-Fried had waived his rights or agreed to the extradition, the Bahamas would have been able to immediately extradite him.
His rejection on Tuesday may delay the extradition but his attempts, most likely, won’t be successful.
It’s unknown now how quickly the extradition would happen.
His next extradition hearing is scheduled for February 8, 2023.
Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman Fried, now facing a litany of criminal charges in the US, was expected to testify before US Congress on Tuesday, fielding questions from the House Financial Services Committee on the billions of dollars missing from his cryptocurrency platform. Instead, he stood in a Bahamas court under arrest and fighting extradition, as new CEO John Ray III showed up on Capitol Hill alone, revealing the spectacular underpinnings of FTX, the now troubled exchange.
The public anticipated Bankman-Fried’s appearance, whether in-person or virtually, since Chairwoman Maxine Waters posted the request to Twitter, appealing for the former billionaire to account for the missing massive cash which belonged to his customers and investors.
The arrest of Bankman-Fried was rapid and shocking. The dramatic turn of events now meant US lawmakers will no longer grill him on Capitol Hill.
Congressman William Timmons (Republican-South Carolina), also a former prosecutor, questioned the “bizarre” move by the prosecutors of the South District of New York.
“Why 36 hours before testifying…did the South District New York send an arrest warrant to facilitate the arrest to preclude his [Sam Bankman-Field] testimony?” he asked.
Ray agreed that Bankman-Fried’s testimony to Congress would have “absolutely” been helpful to understanding the case.
Bankman-Fried was arrested on Monday night in the Bahamas, by request from the US government, one day before the congressional hearing. US Prosecutor Damian Williams threw eight charges of conspiracy, fraud, money laundering, and campaign violation at the 30-year-old crypto darling.
“I believe it was a decision made by the DOJ to prevent Sam Bankman-Fried from coming here to answer questions in front of people,” Timmons asserted.
His testimony “would be great for the case,” he continued. “I just don’t understand it.”
“I look forward to figuring out why they did that.”
Bankman-Fried was the second biggest donor to the Democratic party, even giving millions to President Joe Biden when he campaigned against Donald Trump. It is reported that he hoped to influence crypto regulations.
FTX, once valued at $32 billion imploded in a matter of weeks after documents were leaked that Bankman-Fried was funneling cash to his sister company Alameda Research, and the exchange had a gap of $8 billion in losses.
Bankman-Fried quickly filed for bankruptcy on November 11 and the man who was once lauded for his billion-dollar crypto successes became the villain of the financial market with only a meager $100,000 reportedly left in his bank account.
Following Tourism Minister Chester Cooper’s labeling of Fyre Festival fraudster as “a fugitive,” Billy McFarland says he wants Bahamians to restore their trust in him as he seeks to reimburse the people he duped out of thousands of dollars in 2017.
“I would like to start making small positive steps. Unfortunately, I don’t have the backing I had five, or six years ago, but as I earn I would like to start making payments and I would like to start engaging with the community as much as possible,” McFarland said in a voice note.
McFarland was handed down a 6-year sentence in a US court in 2018 and was ordered to pay $26 million in restitution to investors and vendors. He was released in August after 4 years and has since returned to the Bahamas with cameras in tow as he embarks on a new adventure–a scavenger hunt in Bahamian waters.
This angered caterer Elvis Rolle who with his wife Maryann, lost $50,000 in food preparation for the festival that never happened.
The government on Monday then attempted to take a hard line on McFarland’s return stating that the promoter is being sought by police after “several pending complaints [were] made against him with the Royal Bahamas Police Force.”
Cooper then prompted anyone knowing of McFarland’s whereabouts to report it to the police.
While McFarland has not indicated where he is in the Bahamas, he stated, that since his release from prison, he attempted to find out which vendors needed to be reimbursed in the Bahamas and how he can take steps to repay them.
“I made some really bad decisions five years ago and I’m learning the ramifications of my actions.
“There’s nothing more I want to do than rebuild trust,” he said.
In April 2017, McFarland along with Ja Rule organized the Fyre Festival, promoting it as a luxurious music event in Exuma. Several celebrities got on board to promote the event including Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid. But when thousands of concertgoers landed on the island, they were met with tents stocked with wet mattresses, cold food, and music acts that never showed up.
Update: The listing has been labeled a “web malfunction” and has since been removed. Nikki Boeuf, President of the Bahamas Real Estate Association said, “It’s unfortunate because the integrity of the industry is at stake.
Now disgraced crypto-white knight Sam Bankman Fried is selling his $40 million house nestled in the western end of Nassau, Bahamas.
The 12,000-square-foot five-bedroom luxury penthouse was reportedly put on the market after Bankman-Fried filed for bankruptcy sending the crypto market spiraling out of control.
The penthouse, where Bankman-Fried and his nine other roommates lived and worked, features a private elevator, and a private balcony with a spa and lounge area.
It is considered, “the ultimate in luxury waterfront living in the Caribbean” according to its listing.
FTX, before the collapse, was the second biggest crypto exchange and was headquartered in the Bahamas. Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO last week as he work to recoup the billions of customer funds lost in the crash.
Bankman-Fried lost an estimated 14 billion dollars overnight and his company was once valued at 32 billion dollars.
Reports say Bankman-Fried’s sale of his Bahamas penthouse is the first indication of his effort to sell off assets.
Fallen Crypto King Sam Bankman-Fried not only imploded the cryptocurrency market but dealt a heavy blow to the pocket of the governing party of the Bahamas.
The Progressive Liberal Party suffered financially since Bankman-Fried was a generous megadonor and facilitated government expenses like the Dubai Exhibition 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Royal Banquet at Bahamar and the Hurricane Dorian Benefit Concert.
Before FTX the $32 billion bitcoin exchange collapsed into bankruptcy on Friday and the prospect of millions evaporated from its platform, CEO Bankman-Fried formed a close tie to the PLP.
He was the government’s single largest donor, who extended his wealth not only to the PLP in the Bahamas but also President Joe Biden, dishing out more than $5 million to back his presidential campaign in 2020 against Donald Trump.
It is not known how much money the billionaire doled out after he moved his company’s headquarters to the Bahamas in April, but it is believed to be millions.
At press conferences when questioned by media about the cost of national events, government spokespersons often concealed his identity, only stating that other expenses were incurred by “a corporate donor” or “the private sector.”
In January when controversy arose over the exorbitant cost and size of the contingent which traveled to the Dubai Expo 2020, Director of Communications in the Office of the Prime Minister Latrae Rahming said “The UAE has spent $3.5 million, and the Bahamian private sector has contributed half a million dollars.”
In May when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Bahamas and the media questioned the price tag of the Royal Visit, the committee responsible for planning the event tabulated the cost, and released a statement which in part read, “On this visit, the cost of travel to and from The Bahamas will be borne by the Royal household. The Governor General’s reception is being sponsored by a corporate donor.”
FTX’s Communication Director Valdez Russell is seen in social media posts, attending events, including the Dorian Concert which featured renowned gospel artist Cece Winans, which suggests that FTX funded the concert. He also attended the Bahamas Pavilion in Dubai earlier in the year, stating in a post, “Stopped in to see the Bahamas Pavilion and got even more excited about exciting possibilities as FTX becomes a platinum sponsor.” In addition, Russell makes his presence known at the Royal Gala held at Bahamar for Prince William and Princess Kate as he socializes with the royals and other attendees.
Other photos posted to Russell’s social media page show Former Cabinet Ministers in the Christie Administration, Allyson Maynard and Jerome Fitzgerald attending an FTX-USA event and rubbing shoulders with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Maynard is reported to be FTX’s lawyer and was responsible for helping Banker-Fried establish his headquarters in the Bahamas.
FTX billionaire Bankman-Fried is no stranger to tying himself to political groups, eager to woo crypto-friendly politicians. He is the second biggest donor of the Democratic Party in the USA doling out $40 million to Democrats during the 2022 midterm election, with hopes of influencing legislature and policymakers so that FTX gets special treatment in the market.
Jeff Hauser, director of the left-leaning Revolving Door Project, said “A lot of people in the Democratic Party got really close to Sam Bankman-Fried, and it reflects very badly on people who took this guy seriously,” he said. “People who in their past lives have taken on corporate power have been bedazzled by money seemingly being thrown their way.”
In October, Bankman-Fried said he could spend anywhere from $100 million to $1 billion on Democratic races through 2024, but later walked back his comments.
“We’ve never seen something like this on this scale,” said Bradley Beychok, co-founder of American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic super PAC. “On our side, there’s a small pool of people who write these kinds of checks and they tend to be the same folks. But Sam, to his credit, came right in with a big splash.”
The crypto power broker is now being scrutinized by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for his company’s handling of customer funds. What will the PLP do as US politicians now begin to distance themselves from Bankman-Fried?
The people who worked with FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried were shocked at the empire’s rapid fall and tell of his “radio silence” in the midst of chaos at the second-biggest crypto exchange.
People familiar with the operation spoke to CoinDesk on anonymity citing ongoing harassment and death threats: “The whole operation was run by a gang of kids in the Bahamas.”
The 30-year-old crypto king lives in his Bahamas luxury penthouse with his nine housemates who include the company’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Gary Wang, FTX Director of Engineering Nishad Singh and Caroline Ellison of Alameda. The other 6 employees are former co-workers from quantitative trading firm Jane Street and others he met at his alma mater, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Alameda Research is a trading giant at the center of the company’s collapse which the Wall Street Journal reported got $10 billion of FTX customer money. This spurred allegations of FTX’s mishandling of funds when it tapped into customer accounts to fund risky bets in its trading company Alameda.
A third person familiar with how the company operated said: “They’ll do anything for each other.”
FTX and Alameda employees told CoinDesk that they were kept in the dark regarding the events of the past week, stating that only Bankman-Fried’s inner circle may have had knowledge about the company’s dealings.
Bankman-Fried’s father, Stanford Law professor Joseph Bankman, also plays a role at the company. He is believed to be involved in the company’s charity and regulation-related projects.
“I also should have been communicating more very recently,” Bankman-Fried said. “Transparently–my hands were tied during the duration of the possible Binance deal; I wasn’t particularly allowed to say much publicly. But of course, it’s on me that we ended up there in the first place.”
Bankman-Fried was crypto’s poster boy but he is now trying to stave off bankruptcy and needs about $8 billion to keep afloat.