An ex-top official of the defunct FTX cryptocurrency exchange admitted guilt on Thursday to illegally giving tens of millions of dollars to US politicians’ campaigns and participating in a criminal conspiracy to run an unauthorized money transfer business.
The fourth senior officer at the business or its affiliates to enter a guilty plea is Ryan Salame, the former co-chief executive of FTX Digital Markets.
He agreed to lose up to $1.55 billion in assets as part of an agreement with the prosecution.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the man who founded the well-known digital currency trading website FTX, was detained in the Bahamas last year and extradited to the United States to face charges for a number of offenses. He may be called as a witness to testify during his trial.
Before a judge in Manhattan, Salame, 30, filed his plea and acknowledged to the court that in the years 2020 and 2021, he made illegal political contributions to both Democrats and Republicans using millions of dollars from a hedge fund run by Bankman-Fried.
He claimed that those contributions were made to help Bankman-political Fried’s causes.
Prosecutors claimed they had obtained private messages from Salame in which she expressed Bankman-desire Fried’s to support politicians of both parties who were “pro crypto” while working to remove lawmakers who were “anti crypto” from office.
This information was contained in a criminal complaint that was unsealed on Thursday.
Troubled Business and Legal Battles
The tentative date for Salame’s sentence was March. He was given the go-ahead to be released from federal detention until then and walked out of court without speaking to the media.
On suspicion of defrauding clients by using their funds to pay for his expenses, contribute illegally to political campaigns, and conduct trades at a different cryptocurrency hedge fund he formed, Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried is awaiting trial.
Gary Wang, Caroline Ellison, and Nishad Singh, three other executives who were close to Bankman-Fried, have already entered guilty pleas.
Bankman-Fried entered a not-guilty plea. He was out on bail while awaiting trial, but was recently imprisoned when a judge determined that he had attempted to sway possible witnesses in the case, including by providing news outlets with copies of Ellison’s private writings.
One of the most well-known American cryptocurrency entrepreneurs was Bankman-Fried before FTX crashed and filed for bankruptcy in November.
His business paid celebrities, such as Larry David from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” to appear in TV commercials.
According to federal election records, Salame was one among the biggest donors to conservatives during the previous election cycle, giving more than $20 million to Republican candidates and causes.
Salam claimed in a secret message to a close friend that the money supplied through him was meant to “filter out” Republican cryptocurrency opponents, the prosecution claimed in a court document.
When it was revealed that Bankman-Fried was facing criminal charges, other MPs hurried to refund their contributions. Receivers of the donations have not been charged with any crimes by the prosecution.
Source: ABC News