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Guilty – FTX exec admits illegal campaign donations

Ryan Salame leaves Federal court, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Ryan Salame leaves Federal court, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

THE former co-chief of executive of FTX Digital Markets, Ryan Salame, yesterday pleaded guilty to making tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to US politicians and engaging in a criminal conspiracy to operate an unlicenced money transfer business. 

Ryan Salame, the former co-chief executive of FTX Digital Markets, is the fourth high-ranking official at the company or its affiliates to plead guilty to criminal charges.

The Tribune previously reported that it was confessions from Mr Salame about the misuse of multi-billion dollar client funds that prompted an urgent police probe into possible misconduct, as revealed by Christina Rolle, the Securities Commission’s executive director. 

This came in the final hours of the crypto exchange’s implosion, and sealed the decision to put FTX Digital Markets in provisional liquidation.

Yesterday, under a deal with prosecutors, Salame agreed to forfeit up to $1.55 billion in assets. He could also be called as a witness to testify at the trial of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who was arrested last year in The Bahamas and extradited to the US to face charges that he committed a host of crimes while running the popular digital currency trading platform.

Salame, 30, entered his plea before a judge in Manhattan, admitting to the court that he illegally used millions of dollars from a hedge fund controlled by Bankman-Fried to make political contributions in 2020 and 2021 to both Democrats and Republicans.

The purpose of those donations, he said, was to fund political initiatives supported by Bankman-Fried. In a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday, prosecutors said they had obtained private messages in which Salame wrote that Bankman-Fried wanted to support politicians in both parties who were “pro crypto”, while working to get “anti crypto” lawmakers out of office.

A lawyer for Salame, Jason Linder, didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment. Salame’s sentencing was tentatively scheduled for March. He was ordered released from federal custody until then and left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.

Bankman-Fried is awaiting trial on charges that he defrauded customers by diverting their money to cover his expenses, make illegal campaign contributions and make trades at a separate crypto hedge fund he founded, Alameda Research.

Three other executives close to Bankman-Fried have already pleaded guilty: Caroline Ellison, Nishad Singh and Gary Wang.

Bankman-Fried’s trial is scheduled for October.

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty. He was free on bail while awaiting trial, but he was recently jailed after a judge ruled that he had tried to influence potential witnesses in the case, including by giving Ellison’s private writings to news organizations.

Before FTX collapsed and declared bankruptcy in November, Bankman-Fried had been one of the best-known US crypto entrepreneurs. His company hired celebrities, including Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David, to appear in TV ads.

Bankman-Fried and people associated with his companies, including Salame, were also heavy givers to political campaigns.

Salame was one of the top donors to conservatives during the last election cycle, contributing more than $20m to Republican candidates and causes, according to federal election records. In a private message sent to a confidant, Salam said the donations routed through him were intended to “weed out” the cryptocurrency opponents on the Republican side, prosecutors said in a court filing.

After the criminal charges against Bankman-Fried became public, many lawmakers rushed to return donations. Prosecutors haven’t accused recipients of the donations of any wrongdoing.

Comments

ExposedU2C 9 months, 2 weeks ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

quavaduff 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Exposed ever heard of tRump and the rico operations known as the republican party in America. They steal everyday from their ignorant, racist sheeple.

Porcupine 9 months, 2 weeks ago

And, this 30 year old "agreed" to forfeit 1.5 billion in assets. Anyone one connected to running this scheme should have all of their assets taken. All.

TalRussell 9 months, 2 weeks ago

'Whatcha canna anyone n' authority, really do help u, --- Say there's a crossing of the Atlantic sea waters, to come to get you'?--- Comrades, couldn't you sense, the sounds of handcuffs on wrists, leg shackles and belly chains, ---- Does signal, why the arms US Justice --- 'Tis itching to extend their jurisdiction, stretching, across the Atlantic sea waters, over into the crown colony,.---- Is at their reciprocation readiness to ---- Clank.to any of SBF's --- Bahamalander scheme connections.---- Has ran afoul.of what literally cold run up into the 'Hundreds of millions of USD, --- because of not following the laws. --- Yes?

ThisIsOurs 9 months, 2 weeks ago

"it was confessions from Mr Salame about the misuse of multi-billion dollar client funds that prompted an urgent police probe into possible misconduct, as revealed by Christina Rolle, the Securities Commission’s executive director"

To this day the RBPF has investigated nothing. Ask them they'll tell you they still waiting on information from SEC

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