Former FTX Executive Ryan Salame Pleads Guilty to Charges

The plea comes ahead of the trial of former FTX founder, Sam Bankman-Fried

Former FTX Executive Ryan Salame Pleads Guilty to Charges

Ryan Salame, a former top executive of the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency trading platform FTX, plead guilty to criminal charges. This significant development comes as the latest in a series of legal proceedings involving the controversial cryptocurrency exchange.

The Charges

Salame, who served as the chief executive of FTX and was a top lieutenant of Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder of the digital currency exchange company, pleaded guilty in a New York courtroom. The charges against Salame are linked to the fraud case against Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the failed cryptocurrency company.

Salame pleaded guilty to two criminal charges: 

  • Conspiracy to make unlawful political contributions and defraud the Federal Election Commission and 

  • Conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transferring business. 

“At the time I knew it was prohibited by campaign finance laws to make contributions in my name with money that wasn’t my own,” Salame said in court. He added that, though the funds were categorized as loans, “I never intended to repay them.”

The Plea Agreement

Salame’s plea agreement did not include a promise to testify against Sam Bankman-Fried, who is set to go on trial for fraud next month. This decision marks a significant shift in Salame’s stance, as his attorney had previously told prosecutors he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination if called as a witness against Bankman-Fried.

As part of his plea agreement, Salame will forfeit $1.5 billion. This forfeiture represents one of the largest in a case involving cryptocurrency fraud. Despite the guilty plea, it remains unclear whether Salame will testify against Bankman-Fried in the upcoming trial.

The Aftermath

Three other insiders have already pled pleaded guilty and are cooperating with authorities against Bankman-Fried since the company collapsed and filed for bankruptcy court protection last November.: Caroline Ellison, the former head of Alameda, Bankman-Fried’s hedge fund; Gary Wang, co-founder of FTX and Nishad Singh, a former engineer at FTX.

The plea ramps up pressure on Bankman-Fried, whose fraud trial is scheduled to begin in October. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty; Ellison, Singh, and Wang agreed to cooperate with the government against him. “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.


The case against FTX and its executives continues to unfold, with more insiders pleading guilty and cooperating with authorities. As the legal proceedings progress, the cryptocurrency industry will be watching closely for potential impacts on regulatory oversight and investor confidence.

This case serves as a stark reminder of the risks associated with cryptocurrency trading platforms and underscores the need for robust regulatory oversight in this rapidly evolving sector. It also highlights the importance of transparency and accountability in the financial industry. With more developments expected in this case, it will be interesting to see how it unfolds and what lessons can be learned from it.

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