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Within the Bahamas, a Lingering Sympathy for Sam Bankman-Fried

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Because the self-appointed standard-bearer for the crypto industry at large, Mr. Bankman-Fried was working to diversify the economy of an island that has long looked to expand beyond tourism, and that was punished by the decrease in visitors attributable to the Covid-19 pandemic. He helped organize a spring crypto conference that brought in lots of of well-heeled visitors. At Albany, the oceanfront compound where he and his associates lived, they were generally known as generous employers; one delivery driver said he was tipped greater than $100 to bring a modest Burger King order to a cryptocurrency investor there.

In some instances, residents’ attitudes reflect easy empathy. “I feel bad for him,” said Philip Butler, an elder on the Christian Life Church in Nassau.

FTX’s recent chief executive, John Ray, in Congressional testimony this month accused the Bahamian authorities of illicitly withdrawing $100 million from the cryptocurrency exchange within the hours before it collapsed. Mr. Ray called the method “irregular,” and said authorities have stonewalled his efforts to get answers. The securities regulator for the Bahamas denied that in a press release.

Within the Bahamas, the general crime rate is low but those found guilty often receive long sentences. Fox Hill, where Mr. Bankman-Fried was held, is thought locally as “Fox Hell.” It bursts with 1,400 prisoners — 40 percent greater than it was built to accommodate — and has limited running water, which frequently comes out brown, based on former prisoners and their families.

The sudden collapse of the crypto exchange has left the industry stunned.

A former inmate released this yr, Sean Hall, said a typical breakfast was grits with sardines, scooped right into a moldy cup. For lunch, unseasoned ground meat with rice is common. Dinner is usually not delivered in any respect. Violence was common, each by the hands of guards and fellow inmates.

By Fox Hill standards, Mr. Bankman-Fried received royal treatment. He was held within the prison’s medical wing with as many as five prisoners in a dormitory-style room that was under constant supervision, based on the administrator. A vegan, he was given toast and jam for breakfast; for lunches and dinners, he had stewed greens and other vegetables.

Still, the prison conditions weighed on Mr. Bankman-Fried’s decision to chop a cope with U.S. prosecutors to be extradited to america, based on an individual briefed on the discussions.

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