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Former FTX Executive Ryan Salame May Forfeit $1.5 Billion After Guilty Plea

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Former FTX Executive Ryan Salame to Forfeit $1.5 Billion After Pleading Guilty to Federal Charges
Former FTX Executive Ryan Salame to Forfeit $1.5 Billion After Pleading Guilty to Federal Charges

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Former senior FTX executive Ryan Salame pleaded guilty to charges of making illegal campaign contributions and fraud and agreed to forfeit up to $1.5 billion as part of a plea deal.

Salame, former co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, admitted to using money from FTX affiliate Alameda Research to make millions of dollars of illegal donations. He also pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed money transfer business.

“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,” said prosecutor Damian Williams

During his plea before Judge Lewis Kaplan, Salame said he had made political contributions using his own name, with the funds originating from a subsidiary of Alameda. The transfers were labeled as “loans” but with the understanding that they wouldn’t be repaid, he said.

“I knew it was prohibited by campaign finance laws to make contributions in my name with money that was not my own,” he said.

As part of his plea deal, Salame agreed to forfeit up to $1.5 billion. But if he pays $6 million before sentencing, likely in March next year, he won’t need to pay the full amount. To help meet his obligations, he has agreed to transfer ownership of a “2021 Porsche automobile”,  two residences located in Massachusetts, and ownership of the East Rood Farm Corporation. 

Ryan Salame, former FTX employee, leaves Manhattan Federal Court
Ryan Salame, former FTX employee, leaves Manhattan Federal Court

No Sign Salame Will Testify Against FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried

There were no signs that Salame was cooperating with the prosecution or would be a witness against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

Following the hearing, he was released on a $1 million bond. His sentencing is scheduled for March 6. “Ryan is eager to move past this chapter in his life,” stated Salame’s attorney, Jason Linder of Mayer Brown. 

The trial of Bankman-Fried is scheduled to begin next month. Accused of masterminding a multibillion-dollar fraud that bankrupted FTX, he has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

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