Former FTX crypto executive pleads guilty to making millions in illegal campaign contributions

Sep 7, 2023, 11:59 AM | Updated: 3:36 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A former top executive at the failed FTX cryptocurrency exchange pleaded guilty Thursday to making tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to U.S. politicians and engaging in a criminal conspiracy to operate 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 or its affiliates to plead guilty to criminal charges.

Under a deal with prosecutors, he 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 $20 million 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.

United States News

Associated Press

15 people suffer minor injuries in tram accident at Universal Studios theme park in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A tram accident at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles injured 15 people Saturday night, authorities and the company said. Los Angeles County Fire Department units were dipatched to the theme park on Lankershim Boulevard shortly after 9 p.m., the department said in a social media post. The victims taken to […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 injured in shooting at Memphis park party, police say

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Eight people were shot including two men who were killed at an unsanctioned public party in a Memphis city park Saturday night, police said. Officers responded at 7:19 p.m. to a reported shooting, Memphis Police Department Chief Cerelyn Davis said during a news conference at the scene. Two men were pronounced […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Vehicle crashes into building where birthday party held, injuring children and adults, sheriff says

BERLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A vehicle drove through a boat club building where a children’s birthday celebration was taking place Saturday, seriously injuring a number of children and adults, a Michigan sheriff said in a news release. The victims were taken to several area hospitals after the crash that occurred at about 3 p.m. […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

3 hospitalized after knife attack on party boat in New York City along Brooklyn waterfront

NEW YORK (AP) — A knife attack on a crowded party boat at a New York City pier Saturday resulted in the hospitalization of three people, police said. A 911 call came in around 5 p.m. reporting the assault along the Brooklyn waterfront near 58th Street and the Brooklyn Army Terminal warehouse, NYPD Detective Sophia […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Autoworkers union celebrates breakthrough win in Tennessee and takes aim at more plants in the South

DALLAS (AP) — The United Auto Workers’ overwhelming election victory at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee is giving the union hope that it can make broader inroads in the South, the least unionized part of the country. The UAW won a stunning 73% of the vote at VW after losing elections in 2014 and 2019. […]

13 hours ago

Associated Press

Conditions improve for students shot in Maryland park on ‘senior skip day’

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — Three of the five youths shot in a suburban Washington, D.C., park during a high school “senior skip day” gathering have been released from the hospital, while the condition of the most seriously injured has improved, authorities said Saturday. Police in Greenbelt, Maryland, are asking the public to share video footage […]

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Former FTX crypto executive pleads guilty to making millions in illegal campaign contributions