SBF’s top FTX executive Ryan Salame sentenced to nearly 8 years in prison

Ryan Salame, one of Sam Bankman-Fried’s top deputies at FTX, was sentenced to nearly eight years in prison — exceeding the term recommended by prosecutors, federal prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Salame, who was co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, the company’s Bahamas-based subsidiary, pleaded guilty in September to making tens of millions of dollars in unlawful campaign donations to boost causes supported by Bankman-Fried.

His lawyers were seeking the minimum sentence of 18 months before Judge Lewis A. Kaplan decided on the 90-month stint in federal court in Manhattan.

The sentence was longer than the five to seven years sought by prosecutors.

Ryan Salame, a former executive at FTX, was sentenced to 90 months in prison Tuesday. Getty Images
Salame last year pleaded guilty to financial crimes related to his stint as a top deputy to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried. Getty Images

He had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make unlawful political contributions and one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.

“Salame’s involvement in two serious federal crimes undermined public trust in American elections and the integrity of the financial system,” said Damian Williams, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Salame, 30, did not a cooperate in the federal trial against Bankman-Fried, though he did hand over nearly 600,000 pages of documents to authorities.

Salame’s lawyers pointed out that he was the first FTX executive to alert authorities in the Bahamas to potential fraud as early as late 2022 — days before the company filed for bankruptcy.

Bankman-Fried was sentenced earlier this year to 25 years in prison for stealing $8 billion from FTX customers. A jury found him guilty in November on seven fraud and conspiracy counts stemming from FTX’s 2022 collapse, which prosecutors have called one of the biggest financial frauds in U.S. history.

Prosecutors say Salame, Bankman-Fried and former FTX engineering chief Nishad Singh used FTX customer funds to donate to political candidates supporting crypto-friendly legislation.

In addition to the prison term, Salame was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay more than $6 million in forfeiture and more than $5 million in restitution, prosecutors said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange FTX. AFP via Getty Images

Salame, who could not immediately be reached for comment, gave more than $24 million to Republican candidates and causes in the 2022 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data, making him one of that year’s top donors.

Salame’s attorneys claimed he was “duped, as was everyone else, into believing that the companies were legitimate, solvent and wildly profitable,” according to a memo filed with US District Court in Manhattan.

Lawyers for Salame (pictured far right with Bankman-Fried and an unidentified individual) asked for a sentence of 18 months. FTX

Kaplan’s sentence could be an indicator of how hard he will crack down on the FTX executives who did cooperate with federal investigators in exchange for more lenient pleas in court.

Bankman-Fried’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Caroline Ellison, Singh and Gary Wang will be sentenced later this year.

All three pleaded guilty to financial wrongdoing and agreed to testify against Bankman-Fried in court. They are due to be sentenced later this year.

Bankman-Fried had used FTX customer funds to make more than $100 million in political contributions before the 2022 elections — mainly to Democrats — and to buy a ritzy $40 million Bahamian penthouse where he and his colleagues lived and worked, prosecutors said.

Gary Wang, another former FTX executive, has pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators. REUTERS
Caroline Ellison, who headed Alameda Research, also testified against Bankman-Fried and pleaded guilty. REUTERS
Nishad Singh also agreed to cooperate with investigators and testify against Bankman-Fried in exchange for a lighter sentence. Daniel William McKnight

Salame joined Alameda in 2019, two years after Bankman-Fried founded it, and became co-chief executive of FTX’s Bahamian affiliate in late 2021.

He worked for Ernst & Young and Circle Internet Financial before joining FTX Digital Markets.

While at Alameda, Salame said he used the fund’s bank accounts to help FTX customers transfer fiat currency to the exchange, even though neither company was licensed as a money services business as required by law.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button