Former FTX Executive Ryan Salame Sentenced To Seven Years

Former top FTX executive Ryan Salame has been sentenced to 90 months, or seven and a half years, in prison for his role in the collapse of what was formerly one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in late 2022.

Salame last September pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make unlawful political contributions, election fraud and conspiracy to operate an unlawful money-transmitting business.

He is the first of FTX’s former executives to be sentenced after a judge sentenced FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried to 25 years in prison earlier this year for stealing more than $8 billion (£6.3bn) from FTX customers.

Salame formerly held a high-ranking post at Bankman-Fried’s crypto hedge fund Alameda Research before becoming the co-chief executive of FTX’s subsidiary in the Bahamas, FTX Digital Markets.

Sam Bankman-Fried. Image credit: FTX

Long sentence

During his time in the post he spent tens of millions of dollars on real estate and campaign donations.

An estimate by Bahamian lawyers claims Bankman-Fried and Salame spent $256.3m to buy and maintain 35 properties across New Providence, while Federal Election Commission data shows Salame gave more than $24m to Republican candidates and causes in the 2022 election cycle.

Days before FTX filed for bankruptcy in November 2022, Salame approached Bahamian authorities to tell them Bankman-Fried may have committed fraud by transferring customers’ funds from the exchange to Alameda Research, one of the first examples of an insider providing evidence against Bankman-Fried.

Salame’s counsel argued that his production of documents to the government showed cooperation and contrition.

But the sentence handed down by federal judge Lewis Kaplan was longer than the five to seven years sought by prosecutors, and far beyond the 18 months defence lawyers had requested.

‘Substantial consequences’

In addition to jail time Salame was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay more than $6m in forfeiture and more than $5m in restitution.

US attorney Damian Williams said the sentence showed “the substantial consequences for such offenses”.

While Salame did not take the stand during Bankman-Fried’s trial, evidence was provided against him by former Alameda chief and Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison, FTX co-founder Gary Wang and former FTX engineering head Nishad Singh, all of whom have pleaded guilty to offences.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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