Ryan Salame, a former high-ranking executive at the crypto exchange FTX, has entered a guilty plea in connection with criminal charges related to the extensive fraud case involving FTX’s founder, Sam Bankman-Fried.
As part of the agreement, Salame has agreed to forfeit $1.55 billion in assets and pay a $6 million fine.
Another Witness Against SBF
Appearing in court on Thursday, Salame pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the Federal Elections Committee, and for operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. The charges could land him up to a decade behind bars.
The executive once helmed FTX’s subsidiary in the Bahamas and was an active Republican donor, sending $24 million to political candidates during the 2022 midterm election cycle. He admitted to falsely labeling $10 million worth of such contributions as “loans.”
“Ryan Salame agreed to advance the interests of FTX, Alameda Research, and his co-conspirators through an unlawful political influence campaign and through an unlicensed money transmitting business, which helped FTX grow faster and larger by operating outside of the law,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement following the plea.
During his plea, Salame stated that he “understood that the loans would eventually be forgiven,” and not need to be repaid.
Federal prosecutors targeted Salame in light of FTX’s collapse and conducted a search at his residence in Maryland earlier this year. Legal documents linked him directly to Bankman-Fried’s alleged “straw donor” scheme to bypass campaign contribution limits, implicating him as a proxy donor.
Stacked Odds Against Bankman-Fried
This development comes as another blow to Bankman-Fried, whose trial is set to commence on October 3.
Salame’s decision to cooperate with authorities marks him as the fourth executive within Bankman-Fried’s inner circle to admit to criminal wrongdoing since the collapse of FTX in November.
Colleagues Nishad Singh, Caroline Ellison, and Gary Wang have previously pleaded guilty to fraud charges.
Bankman-Fried was arrested in December and faces seven criminal counts, including wire fraud and securities fraud. He stands accused of diverting billions from FTX’s customer funds to finance real estate acquisitions, political donations, and investments in other firms.
The former boss has pleaded not guilty, though his bail was revoked recently after a judge ruled that he attempted to interfere with witnesses.
Featured Image Courtesy Of Bloomberg.
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