Ryan Salame, a member of the collapsed crypto exchange FTX’s ‘inner circle,’ receives prison sentence

A federal judge has handed down a sentence of over seven years in prison to Ryan Salame, a former FTX executive. This marks the first instance of one of Sam Bankman-Fried’s associates receiving jail time for their involvement in the 2022 collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange.

Salame, who was in his thirties, held a prominent position at FTX for the majority of the exchange’s existence. He served as the co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets until the exchange’s downfall. Last year, he admitted guilt to charges of unlawfully making campaign contributions in the United States and running an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan handed down a sentence of 7 1/2 years in prison to Salame, along with three years of supervised release. This exceeded the prosecution’s request for a sentence of five to seven years, as stated in their pre-sentencing memo.

During Bankman-Fried’s trial earlier this year, Salame, who held a senior position at FTX, played a minor role and did not serve as a key witness against him. However, during the sentencing hearing, Salame sought leniency and acknowledged his cooperation by offering documents that assisted the prosecution in both Bankman-Fried’s cross-examination and Salame’s own case.

Bankman-Fried utilized Salame’s assistance not only in concealing the deficiencies in FTX’s financial records, which ultimately resulted in the exchange’s downfall, but also in making illicit campaign donations to influence cryptocurrency-related policies in the United States. While Bankman-Fried primarily supported Democrats and causes with liberal leanings through his political contributions, Salame channeled his donations towards Republicans and right-leaning causes.

Salame ultimately sourced the funds for those contributions from Bankman-Fried.

According to Kaplan, Salame was well aware of his actions and deliberately chose to conceal them from the rest of the world. Kaplan finds this behavior to be astonishing.

Salame faced criticism from the judge for withdrawing $5 million in cryptocurrencies from FTX while the exchange was experiencing difficulties.

Kaplan expressed his frustration, stating, “You attempted to withdraw tens of millions more. I prioritized myself in this situation. I am taking the first spot in the lifeboat, disregarding all the other customers.”

Salame expressed his apologies to FTX customers and his family, acknowledging that he and others involved had good intentions. However, he recognized the illegality of the means he pursued to achieve these goals.

Salame, before his sentencing, delivered a brief statement expressing his commitment to embarking on a journey towards redemption.

He expressed his acceptance of what lay ahead.

Three additional top-level executives at FTX are currently awaiting sentencing for their involvement in the collapse of the exchange. These executives include Caroline Ellison, who served as the CEO of the FTX hedge fund Alameda Research, Gary Wang, the co-founder of FTX, and Nishad Singh, FTX’s head of engineering. Each of them collaborated with prosecutors and provided testimony during the trial against Bankman-Fried, with the hope of receiving potentially suspended prison sentences.

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MBS Staff
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