Ryan Salame, former CEO of FTX Digital Markets, pleaded guilty Thursday to complicity in making illegal political donations and defrauding the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and operating an unlicensed money transfer business.
Salame faces up to 10 years in prison for his crimes.
The senior executive was a close associate of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which collapsed last year due to fraud and market manipulation.
According to prosecutors, Salame acted as a “fake donor” for Bankman-Fried, who used him to funnel millions of dollars to Republican political candidates and causes. Salame made $10 million in political donations between 2020 and 2022, falsely labeling them as “loans” from FTX or its affiliates.
Additionally, according to prosecutors, Salame helped Bankman-Fried evade regulatory scrutiny by operating an unlicensed money transmission company that transferred money between FTX and its customers. Salame pleaded guilty to two counts in Manhattan before U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield. He agreed to cooperate with the government's investigation and pay $10 million in ill-gotten gains.
Salame was released on $1 million bail.
*This is not investment advice.