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Former FTX Executive Ryan Salame Sentenced to 90 Months in Prison

The sentencing of Ryan Salame marks a significant development in the ongoing legal proceedings against former FTX executives.


The sentencing of Ryan Salame marks a significant development in the ongoing legal proceedings against former FTX executives.
Credit: Foretoken Media 2024

NEW YORK – The US Department of Justice announced Tuesday that former FTX executive Ryan Salame was sentenced to 90 months, or 7.5 years, in prison. The New York Times reported that Salame will surrender on August 29, with his lawyers aiming to have him serve his sentence at a federal prison in Cumberland, Maryland.


Consequences and Financial Penalties


In addition to his prison term, Salame must serve three years of supervised release. He is also required to pay over $6 million in forfeiture and $5 million in restitution. US Attorney Damian Williams commented on Salame's role in illegal campaign financing and the operation of an unlawful money transmission business, stating that the sentencing "underscores the substantial consequences for such offenses."


Judge Kaplan's Rationale for a Long Sentence


Judge Lewis Kaplan highlighted Salame's personal transactions, including substantial withdrawals during the collapse of FTX. He noted that Salame’s spending on personal expenses and hiring a public relations firm indicated he intended to "get in the lifeboat first," harming customers. Kaplan also criticized Salame’s political financing crimes, emphasizing that such actions jeopardize the integrity of political life in the country.


Despite the defense’s argument that Salame was unaware of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud and was merely a tool of the former exchange leader, Judge Kaplan upheld the need for a long sentence. The New York Times noted that the 90-month sentence exceeds the five to seven years sought by prosecutors and the 18 months requested by Salame’s defense lawyers.


Salame's Involvement in FTX and Alameda Research


Salame served as co-CEO of FTX’s Bahamas-based entity, FTX Digital Markets, starting in October 2021. From 2019 to 2021, he held various high-ranking positions at Alameda Research, FTX's sister firm. Salame conspired with other company executives to operate an unlicensed money business, moving FTX customer funds without proper licensing and making false bank statements.


Additionally, Salame, along with former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and former executive Nishad Singh, conducted over 300 illegal campaign donations worth tens of millions of dollars. Salame's sentencing follows that of Bankman-Fried, who received a 24-year prison sentence in March. Other FTX and Alameda Research executives, including Caroline Ellison, Nishad Singh, and Gary Wang, have also reached plea deals but have not yet been sentenced.

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