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Former FTX executive pleads guilty less than a month before founder’s trial

A court hearing in Manhattan on Thursday revealed that Salame was responsible for bypassing electoral rules by becoming a big donor to the Republican party.

Former FTX executive Ryan Salame has pleaded guilty and will remain free on a $1M bond till his sentencing hearing next year.

Former FTX exec pleads guilty

Ryan Salame, the former co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, has pleaded guilty on charges relating to defrauding the United States Federal Election Commission (FEC) and conspiring to operate and unlicensed money-transmitting business.

A court hearing in Manhattan on Thursday revealed that Salame was responsible for bypassing electoral rules by becoming a big donor to the Republican party and making unlawful political contributions to multiple campaigns.

According to him, donations in tens of millions of dollars were made to candidates in the run-up to the 2022 midterms in his own name. While those transfers were labelled loans, Salame admitted that he never intended for them to be returned.

“I made $10 million in political contributions and called them loans, which I never intended to repay,” said Salame. “This was supported by Sam Bankman-Fried. I knew it was prohibited. As Alameda’s head of settlements I used banks, one used in California. I was unaware licensure was required. But now I know.”

Read more: Sam Bankman-Fried faces new DOJ indictment for using $100M in campaign funding

Salame to forfeit assets

In April, Salame’s residence in Washington, D.C., was searched by FBI agents. In spite of allegations that he used FTX customer cash to donate $24 million to Republicans, no charges have yet been filed against him by the prosecution. But according to the New York Times, he is the focus of an investigation into possible violations of campaign financing laws.

Salame appeared before Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is also overseeing SBF’s trial. With his plea of guilty recorded, Salame have also cut a deal with federal prosecutors that will cause him to forfeit $1.5B. 

“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. “Today’s guilty plea reflects the commitment I made in December that my Office would continue to pursue swift justice against individuals at FTX and its affiliates who engaged in criminal conduct.”

Salame’s principal, FTX’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried gets ready for the commencement of his own criminal trial in October after having his motion for immediate release from prison recently denied.

The maximum sentence for Salame’s offenses is ten years in prison. He was released on bail after posting a $1 million bond. His sentencing is scheduled for March 2024.

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