Ex-FTX executive Salame due in U.S. court for expected guilty plea


By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Ryan Salame, the former co-CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX’s Bahamian subsidiary, is due for a “proceeding of interest” in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, federal prosecutors said.

Such appearances normally suggest a defendant has reached a plea deal. Salame is appearing before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, the same judge overseeing indicted FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s criminal case over the exchange’s collapse.

When asked for comment, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan confirmed Salame would appear at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT).

Salame’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan say Bankman-Fried, FTX’s founder, stole billions in FTX customer deposits to plug losses at his hedge fund Alameda Research, and lied to investors and lenders about his companies’ financial condition.

Bankman-Fried, a 31-year-old former billionaire, rode a boom in the values of bitcoin and other digital assets to become a billionaire several times over and an influential U.S. political donor before his exchange collapsed amid a flurry of customer withdrawals.

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges over FTX’s collapse.

Salame worked for Ernst & Young and Circle Internet Financial before joining FTX Digital Markets – the exchange’s Bahamas unit – in 2021, according to a profile on the University of Massachusetts Amherst website, where he established a scholarship fund.

Days before FTX filed for bankruptcy and Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO, Salame informed the Securities Commission of the Bahamas – the Caribbean nation’s financial regulator – that client assets held at FTX Digital Markets may have been transferred to Alameda, according to a court filing by the agency.

Salame was also one of the top political donors in the 2022 election cycle, donating more than $23 million to Republican campaigns, according to OpenSecrets.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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