FTX exec seeks 18-month sentence after forfeiting $1.5 billion

Former FTX executive Ryan Salame, who pled guilty to election fraud charges in September, is seeking a lenient sentence of no more than 18 months in prison, according to a court filing.

Salame’s attorneys argue that he did not play a central role in the fraudulent activities that led to the collapse of FTX and that he lost much of his personal fortune when the cryptocurrency exchange filed for bankruptcy in November 2022. He also agreed to forfeit $1.5 billion.

The sentencing memorandum highlights Salame’s cooperative stance with authorities and his less central role in the company’s fraudulent activities.

Salame managed wire deposits and fiat currency conversions for FTX customers, participated in political contributions using Alameda funds, and led charitable initiatives in The Bahamas. His attorneys argue that his involvement was primarily operational rather than central to the fraud perpetrated by the key figures at FTX and Alameda.

The filing further claims that he “had absolutely no knowledge that the four people at the center of Alameda and FTX had conspired to lie and to steal from their customers. Ryan stole from no one. He did not lie to customers. He was duped…when he finally understood the FTX fraud, he was the first person to blow the whistle to authorities in The Bahamas.”

The memorandum highlights Salame’s cooperation with authorities, noting that he provided crucial information that initiated investigations by Bahamian authorities and furnished documents to the U.S. Attorney’s Office without the need for a grand jury subpoena. His attorneys also cite his genuine remorse, efforts to address substance abuse issues, and the personal and financial losses he has already endured due to FTX’s collapse.

Salame’s attorneys further argue that the relentless media scrutiny and the lasting stigma associated with FTX and its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, have already inflicted lasting damage on Salame’s life and future career prospects.

“The incessant media criticism of FTX and all else within Bankman-Fried’s orbit has ensured [he] will be punished for the rest of his life,” they wrote.

Former Alameda-FTX executives, including CEO Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang, have also pleaded guilty to charges and are negotiating plea deals to avoid jail time.