Former FTX executive Ryan Salame sentenced to 7.5 years in US prison

Ryan Salame pled guilty to tens of millions of dollars in unlawful campaign donations to boost causes supported by his boss.

FTX
Prosecutors said Ryan Salame, Sam Bankman-Fried and a third FTX executive used customer funds to donate to United States political candidates supporting crypto-friendly legislation [File: Dado Ruvic/Reuters]

Ryan Salame, the former co-CEO of FTX’s Bahamian subsidiary and a top lieutenant of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange’s founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, has been sentenced to 90 months in prison, United States federal prosecutors have said.

Salame pleaded guilty in September to making tens of millions of dollars in unlawful campaign donations to boost causes supported by his boss. His seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence, announced on Tuesday, was longer than the five to seven years sought by prosecutors.

Bankman-Fried was sentenced earlier this year to 25 years in prison for stealing $8bn from FTX customers. A jury found him guilty in November on seven fraud and conspiracy counts stemming from FTX’s 2022 collapse, which prosecutors have called one of the biggest financial frauds in US history. Bankman-Fried has appealed the conviction and the sentence.

Prosecutors say Salame, Bankman-Fried and former FTX engineering chief Nishad Singh used FTX customer funds to donate to political candidates supporting crypto-friendly legislation.

Salame’s lawyers have tried to distance him from the FTX fraud. “He was duped, as was everyone else, into believing that the companies were legitimate, solvent and wildly profitable,” they said in a filing earlier in May ahead of the sentencing.

In addition to the prison term, Salame, 30, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay more than $6m in forfeiture and more than $5m in restitution, prosecutors said in a statement.

“Salame’s involvement in two serious federal crimes undermined public trust in American elections and the integrity of the financial system,” said Damian Williams, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Salame gave more than $24m to Republican candidates and causes in the 2022 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data, making him one of that year’s top donors.

He had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make unlawful political contributions and one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

Source: Reuters