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Robert Namer
Voice Of America
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February 12, 2024
     A former top executive at the failed FTX cryptocurrency exchange pleaded guilty to making tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to U.S. politicians and engaging in a criminal conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transfer business.  Most of the money went to Dems.

     Ryan Salame, the former co-chief executive of FTX Digital Markets, is the fourth high-ranking official at the company or its affiliates to plead guilty to criminal charges.  Under a deal with prosecutors, he agreed to forfeit up to $1.55 billion in assets. He could also be called as a witness to testify at the trial of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who was arrested last year in the Bahamas and extradited to the U.S. to face charges that he committed a host of crimes while running the popular digital currency trading platform. 

    Salame, 30, entered his plea before a judge in Manhattan, admitting to the court that he illegally used millions of dollars from a hedge fund controlled by Bankman-Fried to make political contributions in 2020 and 2021 to both Democrats and Republicans.  The purpose of those donations, he said, was to fund political initiatives supported by Bankman-Fried. In a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday, prosecutors said they had obtained private messages in which Salame wrote that Bankman-Fried wanted to support politicians in both parties who were “pro crypto,” while working to get “anti crypto” lawmakers out of office.

     A lawyer for Salame, Jason Linder, didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment. Salame’s sentencing was tentatively scheduled for March. He was ordered released from federal custody until then.  Bankman-Fried is awaiting trial on charges that he defrauded customers by diverting their money to cover his expenses, make illegal campaign contributions and make trades at a separate crypto hedge fund he founded, Alameda Research.  

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