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FTX Exec Sentenced to 7.5 Years Prison

Ryan Salame, once a key lieutenant to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, has been handed a 90-month prison sentence
May 29, 2024

Ryan Salame, once a key figure in the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has been sentenced to 90 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The former lieutenant of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was also ordered to forfeit over $6 million and pay more than $5 million in restitution.

This sentence exceeds the prosecutors' recommendation of five to seven years and far surpasses the 18-month sentence requested by Salame's defense team. In September, Salame pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to make unlawful political contributions, defraud the Federal Election Commission, and operate an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

Salame's legal troubles are part of a larger fallout from the collapse of FTX. In 2021, he transitioned from Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried’s crypto hedge fund, to co-CEO of FTX's Bahamian subsidiary, FTX Digital Markets. During his tenure, Salame invested millions in real estate and political donations, with Bahamian lawyers estimating that he and Bankman-Fried spent $256.3 million on 35 properties in New Providence. Bahamian regulators are now attempting to reclaim these assets in FTX's U.S. bankruptcy proceedings. Additionally, Federal Election Commission data shows Salame contributed over $24 million to Republican candidates and causes during the 2022 election cycle.

Salame's relationship with Bankman-Fried took a dramatic turn just days before FTX's bankruptcy filing in 2022. Salame approached Bahamian authorities to report potential fraud by Bankman-Fried, alleging the misuse of customer funds transferred from FTX to Alameda Research. This disclosure was a pivotal moment, marking the first instance of an insider turning against Bankman-Fried, who was later convicted of embezzling more than $8 billion in customer funds.

The downfall of FTX has seen several insiders come forward. Caroline Ellison, former CEO of Alameda and Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend, FTX co-founder Gary Wang, and former engineering head Nishad Singh all testified for the prosecution, contributing to Bankman-Fried's guilty verdict in November. Unlike these individuals, Salame did not testify during Bankman-Fried’s trial.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams emphasized the gravity of Salame's crimes, stating that his actions "undermined public trust in American elections and the integrity of the financial system." This sentence serves as a stark reminder of the severe consequences faced by those involved in undermining the financial and electoral systems.

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