Former FTX Executive Pleads Guilty to Illegal Campaign Contributions
A former top executive at the failed FTX cryptocurrency exchange pleaded guilty Thursday to making illegal campaign contributions to U.S. politicians and operating an unlicensed money transfer business. Ryan Salame, the former co-chief executive of FTX Digital Markets, is the fourth high-ranking official at the company to plead guilty to criminal charges. Salame has agreed to forfeit up to $1.55 billion in assets and could testify at the trial of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
Ryan Salame, the former co-chief executive of FTX Digital Markets, has pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions and operating an unlicensed money transfer business. This makes him the fourth high-ranking official at the company to plead guilty to criminal charges.
Agreement with Prosecutors:
As part of a deal with prosecutors, Salame has agreed to forfeit up to $1.55 billion in assets. He may also be called as a witness in the trial of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who is facing charges related to various crimes committed while running the digital currency trading platform.
Illegal Campaign Contributions:
Salame admitted to illegally using millions of dollars from a hedge fund controlled by Bankman-Fried to make political contributions to both Democrats and Republicans in 2020 and 2021. The purpose of these donations was to fund political initiatives supported by Bankman-Fried.
Supporting “Pro Crypto” Politicians:
According to private messages obtained by prosecutors, Salame stated that Bankman-Fried wanted to support politicians from both parties who were “pro crypto” while working to remove “anti crypto” lawmakers from office.
Other Executives Pleading Guilty:
Three other executives close to Bankman-Fried, Caroline Ellison, Nishad Singh, and Gary Wang, have already pleaded guilty to charges related to the case.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial is scheduled for October. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding customers, making illegal campaign contributions, and engaging in fraudulent trading activities.
FTX’s Bankruptcy and Political Donations:
Before FTX collapsed and declared bankruptcy in November, Bankman-Fried was a well-known crypto entrepreneur. His company hired celebrities for TV ads, and he and people associated with his companies, including Salame, were heavy contributors to political campaigns.
After the criminal charges against Bankman-Fried became public, many lawmakers rushed to return the donations they had received. However, prosecutors have not accused the recipients of any wrongdoing.
Jake Offenhartz, The Associated Press