FBI raids home of former FTX exec and Bankman-Fried’s co-CEO

On Thursday morning, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) carried out a search at the Potomac, Md. home of Ryan Salame, the co-CEO of FTX's Bahamian subsidiary.

FBI raid on a private mansion, art generated by Midjourney.

According to a report from the New York Times, the FBI searched the home of Ryan Salame, reportedly looking into the $24 million he donated to Republican campaigns during his time at the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Authorities allege that most of the $90 million campaign contributions made during last year’s midterm elections by a handful of FTX top executives, including Salame, were taken from the customers’ funds.

A prolific Republican donor, Salame donated around $24 million to congressional candidates, including alleged con artist George Santos, who also received donations from other ex-FTX senior execs, Claire Watanabe and Ramnik Arora.

The tag team of Salame and Sam Bankman-Fried, who was a Democrat megadonor, aimed to win supporters from both sides of the political fence, with a far-reaching goal to shape Washington’s crypto policy. According to NYT, Salame once told a campaign fundraiser that he wasn’t particularly interested in politics and suggested that he was encouraged to make contributions to crypto causes by other higher-ups at FTX.

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His confession sheds light on Sam Bankman-Fried’s alleged straw donor scheme that enabled FTX to sidestep the limit on political contributions set for corporations. The prosecutors say that the disgraced CEO used two of his closest aides, Ryan Salame and Nishad Singh, FTX’s director of engineering, to conceal the source of donations, using one as a face for contributions to Republicans and the other to donate to Democrat candidates and causes.

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"As part of this scheme, contributions were coordinated to be made in the names of the two FTX straw donors to candidates they did not necessarily support or know. These straw donations were instead made for purposes of furthering the political agenda of Samuel Bankman-Fried, aka 'SBF,' the defendant, while providing him cover to avoid being associated with certain contributions, and concealing that the source of the contributions was in fact Alameda," the February indictment reads.

The trio of FTX execs "made over 300 political contributions, totaling tens of millions of dollars, that were unlawful because they were made in the name of a straw donor or paid for with corporate funds."

Read also: Democrats plan to return $3 million they received from FTX

Salame, who was part of Sam Bankman-Fried’s inner circle, was the one in charge of communications with the Bahamas authorities after being appointed co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, the exchange’s Bahamian business entity.

Days before the exchange filed for bankruptcy in November, Salame tipped off the Bahamian securities watchdog about FTX transferring clients’ assets to Alameda Research, saying that “such transfers were not allowed and therefore may constitute misappropriation, theft, fraud or some other crime.” The warning from Salame prompted the regulator to immediately seek a probe into the FTX’s subsidiary that led to Sam Bankman-Fried’s arrest, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

People close to Salame told WSJ that the former FTX exec threw up and became physically sick when he learned about the exchange’s ugly demise. They also claimed that Salame wasn’t actually as close to Bankman-Fried’s closest circle as he appeared to be.

Salame joined FTX in 2019, after working as a senior tax accountant for EY, the global accounting and consulting firm, and then as an OTC trader for USDC issuer Circle. According to the exchange’s bankruptcy filings, he received $87 million in bonuses and loans from Alameda.