On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the Washington DC home of Ryan Salame, a former executive of now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, according to a report by The New York Times.
Salame, who previously ran FTX’s Bahamas operation, is being investigated as part of the ongoing probe into the cryptocurrency exchange’s collapse.
Authorities are examining the $24 million in political donations Salame made during last year’s midterm elections and say the majority of the total $90 million donated by former FTX employees, including to the Republican Representative’s campaign George Santos— was taken from customer funds.
Decrypt contacted Ryan Salame’s attorney, Jason Linder, who declined to comment on the investigation.
Salame’s wealth increased significantly during the crypto market boom, as he reportedly secured $87 million in bonuses and loans from FTX’s sister company, trading firm Alameda Research.
After FTX collapsed in November, court documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal revealed that Salame, then president of FTX Digital,warned Bahamian authorities at the cryptocurrency exchange are using customer funds to cover Alameda’s losses.
According The New York Times report, prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried recruited executives — including Salame, who joined the firm in 2021 — to act as proxies for his company and donate tens of millions of dollars to Republican and Democratic candidates.
During a so-called “PR tour” after FTX went bankrupt last year, Bankman-Fried said in a interview that he gave approximately the same amount to both parties.
“All of my Republican donations were bleak,” Bankman-Fried said, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United case that protected corporate and union political donations, raising concerns about corporate money on politics.
“In practice, no one can understand the idea that someone has actually given black [money]“, he said, adding that he had hidden the donations to avoid public scrutiny.
Prior to its collapse, FTX had a $32 billion valuation. FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried faces life in prison multiple charges money laundering, conspiracy and electronic fraud.