FTX Co-CEO Ryan Salame Admits Guilt in FEC Fraud Case

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Former co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, Ryan Salame, has admitted his guilt in a case connected to defrauding the United States Federal Election Commission (FEC) and conspiring to operate an unlicensed money-transmitting business. This development comes as the fourth prominent figure associated with the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX, who has faced criminal charges and confessed to their wrongdoing.

On September 7, the U.S. Justice Department revealed that Salame had entered a guilty plea before a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. This admission could potentially lead to a significant prison sentence for Salame, encompassing both campaign finance violations and the illegal operation of an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

The allegations related to campaign finance appear to be tied to financial contributions made to support the 2022 congressional campaign of Salame’s girlfriend, Michelle Bond. FEC records show that Salame, the former FTX executive, made two donations of $2,900 each for the primary campaign and two more donations of $2,900 each for the general election. Additionally, it was reported that he made campaign contributions on behalf of a corporation, which is a violation of U.S. law.

Salame openly confessed, saying, “I made $10 million in political contributions and called them loans, which I never intended to repay.” He acknowledged that this scheme had the support of Sam Bankman-Fried. Salame was aware that these actions were prohibited, stating, “As Alameda’s head of settlements, I used banks, one of which was in California. I was unaware that licensure was required, but now I know.”

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Although Salame has pleaded guilty to the criminal charges, Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Raymond indicated that he would request probation following the upcoming criminal trial of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), set to begin on October 3.

In addition to his guilty plea, Salame is expected to pay approximately $6 million in penalties to the U.S. government, over $5 million to FTX debtors, and relinquish two properties in Massachusetts along with a Porsche registered in his name. Currently, Salame remains free on a $1 million bond, with a potential sentencing date scheduled for March 6, 2024—just a few days before the start of Bankman-Fried’s second criminal trial.

It is worth noting that former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, FTX co-founder Gary Wang, and FTX’s former engineering director Nishad Singh have already pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges, while SBF has entered a not guilty plea.