Former FTX executive Ryan Salame has pleaded guilty to federal charges including conspiracy to make unlawful political contributions and defraud the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as well as conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a statement.
Salame’s plea agreement was signed in a U.S. Courthouse in the Southern District of New York. Bloomberg reported earlier in the day that Salame was expected to plead guilty to criminal charges. As part of the agreement, Salame will be required to forfeit more than $1.5 billion dollars. His hearing is set for March 6.
Judge Kaplan: I understand the defendant intends to enter a plea of guilty to the S-7 information. I understand your name is pronounced "Salem"?
Kaplan: Sit down, this is not going to be four minutes like across the street…
— Inner City Press (@innercitypress) September 7, 2023
“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 Williams in the press statement.
The U.S. Department of Justice arrested FTX’s co-founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried in December last year. He faces twelve charges including wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to all charges and his first trial is set for Oct. 2.
Salame joins other FTX executives in pleading guilty to criminal charges related to the operation of the crypto exchange including FTX co-founders Gary Wang and Nishad Singh as well as Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison.
Facing an $8 billion shortfall in customer funds, FTX filed for bankruptcy in November last year. John J. Ray III, who is now FTX’s CEO and overseeing bankruptcy proceedings, said he had never in his career “seen such a complete failure of corporate controls.”
Wang, Singh and Ellison are expected to be witnesses in the criminal case against Bankman-Fried and have been cooperating with prosecutors. The prosecution said in a court filing last month that Salame would be unavailable as a witness because he intended to invoke his Fifth Amendment right if subpoenaed.