Former FTX Executive Ryan Salame Sentenced To Over 7 Years In Prison

Zinger Key Points
  • Salame must pay over $6 million in forfeiture and more than $5 million in restitution as part of his sentence.
  • Salame pleaded guilty to conspiracy for unlawful political contributions and defrauding the Federal Election Commission.

Ryan Salame, once a prominent figure in the operations of the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has been sentenced to 90 months in prison.

What Happened: The sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release, with Salame being ordered to pay over $6 million in forfeiture and more than $5 million in restitution.

It surpasses the five to seven years recommended by prosecutors and is significantly harsher than the 18 months requested by Salame’s defense team.

In September, Salame pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including conspiracy to make unlawful political contributions, defrauding the Federal Election Commission, and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

Judge Lewis Kaplan, who earlier this year sentenced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried to 25 years in prison, handed down the sentence.

Salame had transitioned from a senior role at Bankman-Fried's crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research, to co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, the Bahamian subsidiary of FTX, in 2021.

During his tenure, Salame invested heavily in real estate and made substantial campaign donations.

According to Bahamian legal estimates, Bankman-Fried and Salame spent $256.3 million on acquiring and maintaining 35 properties across New Providence.

Bahamian regulators are now seeking to recover these assets through FTX's U.S. bankruptcy proceedings.

Federal Election Commission data shows that Salame contributed over $24 million to Republican candidates and causes during the 2022 election cycle.

Just days before FTX declared bankruptcy in 2022, Salame alerted Bahamian authorities about possible fraud involving Bankman-Fried, indicating that customer funds from FTX had been improperly transferred to Alameda Research.

Also Read: ‘Scared Of Biden Staying?’ 33% Of Voters Will Consider Candidate’s Crypto Stance In 2024, Survey Says

Why It Matters: This disclosure marked one of the first insider admissions of misconduct by Bankman-Fried, who was later found guilty of misappropriating over $8 billion in customer funds.

Other key insiders, including former Alameda CEO and Bankman-Fried's ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison, FTX co-founder Gary Wang, and former head of engineering Nishad Singh, also testified against Bankman-Fried, contributing to his conviction in November.

Unlike these individuals, Salame did not testify during the trial.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams highlighted the gravity of Salame's offenses, stating, “Salame's involvement in two serious federal crimes undermined public trust in American elections and the integrity of the financial system.”

Salame is the first member of Bankman-Fried's executive team to receive a sentence since FTX's bankruptcy filing in November 2022.

What’s Next: These developments will be further discussed at Benzinga’s Future of Digital Assets event on Nov. 19, where industry experts will examine the implications of such high-profile cases on the future of digital assets and regulatory practices.

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Image: Shutterstock

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