Former FTX exec Ryan Salame pleads guilty weeks before Bankman-Fried’s trial

Former FTX exec Ryan Salame has pleaded guilty to charges related to his role at the failed crypto exchange. 

Salame appeared in court Thursday to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the Federal Elections Committee and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. The combined charges carry a maximum of ten years in prison. 

“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,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “Today’s guilty plea reflects the commitment I made in December that my Office would continue to pursue swift justice against individuals at FTX and its affiliates who engaged in criminal conduct.” 

Salame entered his guilty plea in Manhattan Thursday afternoon, weeks before former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is set to stand trial on Oct. 2. 

As part of his plea, Salame admitted to making $10 million in political contributions and falsely labeling them “loans.” He noted that Bankman-Fried endorsed this action.  

Salame’s plea marks the fourth former FTX executive to opt for a guilty plea over a jury trial. Caroline Ellison, former FTX CEO, pleaded guilty to seven offenses, including charges of money laundering and wire fraud. 

Bankman-Fried’s co-founder Gary Wang was the first to enter a guilty plea. In December, Wang pleaded guilty to four counts, including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. 

Nishad Singh, another co-founder, pleaded guilty to five charges, including securities and wire fraud, in February. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov.13. 

Ellison, Wang and Salame do not yet have sentencing hearings scheduled.

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