Ryan Salame Pleads Guilty to Campaign Finance Violations

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  • Former FTX executive Ryan Salame has pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to illegal political campaign donations
  • Salame admitted to making tens of millions in unlawful political contributions funded by transfers from an Alameda subsidiary
  • His guilty plea makes him the fourth former FTX executive to cooperate with prosecutors, further distancing FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried

In the latest twist in the FTX saga, Ryan Salame, a former executive at the exchange, has pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange. Salame, who co-led FTX Digital Markets in the Bahamas and was a notable Republican political donor, admitted to conspiring to make unlawful political contributions and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. Salame faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and will be sentenced in March.

Salame Made $24 Million in Republican Donations

Salame was co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets at the time of FTX’s collapse in November 2022 and didn’t take long to spill the beans on his former colleagues; Salame told the Securities Commission of the Bahamas on November 9 last year of the incestuous relationship between FTX’s hedge fund Alameda Research and its parent, with some claiming he collected part of the $20 million being offered to FTX whistleblowers following its demise.

It was revealed last month that Salame was working with federal prosecutors on a plea deal, a deal which has now been formalized. The former high-ranking executive confessed to making tens of millions of dollars in donations in his name for the 2022 midterms, funded by transfers from an Alameda subsidiary. Despite categorizing these transfers as loans, he admitted never intending to repay them. At the same time, Bankman-Fried donated more than $40 million to Democratic causes, and attempts are ongoing to claw back these donations.

As part of the plea agreement, Salame agreed to forfeit a staggering $1.55 billion in assets, including a $6 million cash payment, two Massachusetts properties, four restaurants, and a Porche 911. Bankruptcy filings also revealed loans of $55 million from Bankman-Fried’s companies to Salame.

Salame Faces 10 Years in Prison

Salame becomes the fourth former FTX executive to reach a plea agreement with prosecutors, further isolating FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who faces numerous criminal charges, including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty and faces trial in October.

FTX collapsed in November due owing almost $9 billion to customers. Prosecutors have announced guilty pleas from key figures such as Caroline Ellison, Zixiao “Gary” Wang, and Nishad Singh. All are expected to testify at Bankman-Fried’s trial. Salame, Ellison, Wang, and Singh formed a close-knit group of associates responsible for running Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire, backed by prominent investors like Sequoia Capital.

As a result of the plea deal, Salame faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and has been released on a $1 million bond. He will be sentenced in March.