June 23, 2024

Image for article titled A close aide to Sam Bankman-Fried has been sentenced to 7 years in prison

Photo: Brendan McDermid (Reuters)

Disgraced FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s close aide and former executive Ryan Salame has been sentenced to 90 months in prison on charges related to the crypto exchange’s collapse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York also announced Tuesday that Salame would pay more than $6 million in forfeiture and more than $5 million in restitution.

“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,” U.S. attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

Since the collapse of FTX in November 2022, Salame has been the first of Sam Bankman-Fried’s deputies to be sentenced. The 30-year-old was the head of FTX’s subsidiary in the Bahamas, where the crypto exchange was based; last year, he pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws and operating an unlicensed business in his work with FTX. Prior to the crypto exchange’s failure, Salame lived a lavish lifestyle of snapping up expensive cars, private jets, and fancy restaurants, per media reports.

Salame played an important role in the exchange’s political fundraising operations. He had previously pled guilty to conspiracy for unlawful political contributions, defrauding the U.S. Federal Election Commission, and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. He asked for leniency from the court and a shorter prison sentence of 18 months.

According to the court’s statement, Salame and his co-conspirators made more than 300 political contributions totaling tens of millions of dollars. But many of those contributions were made in the name of a straw donor or paid for with corporate funds.

Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison earlier this year. His other close aides — Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang, and Nishad Singh — all pleaded guilty to fraud charges. Each testified against the former FTX CEO this year and are now cooperating with the authorities.

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