Ryan Salame, a former top executive at cryptocurrency exchange FTX, pleaded guilty on Thursday to criminal charges related to a massive fraud case against FTX’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried. Hearing next month.
In a federal courthouse in downtown Manhattan, Mr. Salem pleaded guilty to campaign finance law violations and operating an unlicensed money laundering business.
Mr. Mr. Bankman said he made millions in political contributions at the behest of Bankman-Fried. Salameh said. The contributions were named loans from FTX’s sister company, crypto hedge fund Alameda Research.
“I understood that the loans would eventually be forgiven and that I would never have to pay them back,” said Mr. Salameh, dressed in a blue suit and striped tie, spoke about the money he received for campaign donations. Asked if he pleaded guilty to the count, he said, “Yes, your honor.”
Mr. Salameh (pronounced SALEM) will pay a $6 million fine and forfeit two properties in Lenox, Mass., along with a Porsche automobile. He could be sentenced to up to 10 years in a federal prison.
30 year old Mr. Salem ran a subsidiary of FTX in the Bahamas and was a donor to Republican politicians. Mr. has pleaded guilty to criminal activity since the FTX collapse in November. He is the fourth executive in Bankman-Fried’s circle of closest advisers. Three others — Nishad Singh, Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang — have already pleaded guilty to fraud charges and Mr. They agreed to cooperate against Bankmann-Fried. For investigation Mr. A representative for federal prosecutors said Salameh was uncooperative.
FTX filed for bankruptcy last year, becoming a symbol of crypto industry pride. Mr. With the help of Salam, Mr. Bankman-Fried made FTX a household name, endorsed by celebrities and politicians alike. The company then imploded within days, and customers lost more than $8 billion in deposits.
Mr. Bankman-Fried, 31, was arrested in December and charged with seven felony counts, including wire fraud and securities fraud. He is accused of using billions of dollars in FTX’s client funds to finance lavish real estate purchases, political donations and investments in other companies.
He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is set to begin on October 3. Last month, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s bail was revoked and he was sent to prison after a judge ruled he had tried to tamper with witnesses twice. case.
Mr. A spokeswoman for Bankman-Fried declined to comment. After Thursday’s hearing, Mr. Salam’s attorney, Jason Linder, also declined to comment.
Damian Williams, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mr. Salam’s illegal campaign contributions were part of an illegal political influence campaign that “helped FTX grow faster and bigger by operating outside the law.”
Mr. FTX was involved in a scheme to collect money from US customers through accounts held by Alameda at a handful of US banks. Salam also participated. Billing document. The accounts were opened as trading accounts and were not allowed to accept deposits from crypto clients.
Over the years, Mr. Salameh, Mr. He was one of Bankman-Fried’s principal advisers. A native of the Berkshires, Mr. Salameh then began working at Alameda, which was then run by Mr Bankman-Fried in Hong Kong. Mr. When Bankman-Fried moved FTX to the Bahamas, the main contact with the local government was Mr.
As FTX grew, Mr. Salameh became one of crypto’s wealthiest executives and used some of his wealth to buy popular restaurants in the Berkshires. He received $87 million in bonuses and loans from Alameda, according to court records, and was known for his taste in private jets and expensive cars.
Mr. Salam was also active on the Washington political scene, calling himself a “A budding Republican megadonor.” He donated $24 million to the 2022 midterm elections, mostly to Republicans, and started dating Michelle Bond, a crypto lobbyist who ran for Congress from Long Island, NY, a losing Republican.
Mr. The explosion of Bankmann-Fried’s business empire, Mr. That made Salam a target for federal prosecutors. In April, the FBI visited the Potomac, Md., home he shared with Mrs. Bond. Agents Mr. Salam and Mrs. Phones belonging to Bond were seized.
Mr. In the charge against Bankman-Fried, Mr. Salameh was also contacted directly. In legal documents, Mr. Prosecutors said Bankman-Fried enlisted its executives in a “straw donor” scheme. Mr. Bankman-Fried appointed executives as representatives, they said. Mr. The amended indictment against Bankman-Fried states that Mr. Identifies Salam’s donations.
Prosecutors eventually refused to allow Mr. But in a court filing last month, lawyers for Mr. Bankman-Fried said they were using the campaign finance allegations to support other charges she faces.
Benjamin Weiss Contributed report. Jack Beck Research contributed.