The FBI searched the Potomac, Maryland, home of Ryan Salam, a former FTX executive who was a major campaign donor to the Republican political candidate, on Thursday morning, two people familiar with the matter said.
Before FTX filed for bankruptcy in November, Mr. Salame was the head of FTX’s Bahamas subsidiary, and he was part of a close circle of advisors around cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
Federal prosecutors charged Mr. Bankman-Fried with orchestrating a massive fraud and illegal campaign finance scheme at FTX. He has pledged to fight the charges. Three of his former executives have pleaded guilty to the investigation and agreed to cooperate against their former boss.
Mr Salam has drawn particular attention for his $24 million campaign donations during last year’s midterm elections. In court documents, federal authorities allege that much of the $90 million donated to political candidates by a handful of former FTX employees, including Mr. Salame, was misappropriated from the exchange’s clients.
The search of Mr. Salame’s $4 million home suggests that federal authorities did not complete their investigation into the FTX collapse as they prepared for Mr. Bankman-Fried’s trial in October. They are vetting a range of employees and advisers in the former cryptocurrency tycoon’s orbit, including Mr. Bankman-Fried’s younger brother.
Mr. Salam’s attorney, Jason Linder, did not respond to a request for comment.
An FBI spokesman declined to comment.
It was unclear what authorities were looking for in the search around 7 a.m., according to a person who sent The New York Times a photo of FBI agents gathered outside his home.
A native of Sandysfield, Massachusetts, a small town in the Berkshires, Mr Salam Worked for Ernst & Young, a global accounting and consulting firm, before working for Mr. Bankman-Fried at Alameda Research, a Hong Kong-based crypto hedge fund.
He quickly became one of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s most loyal and trusted lieutenants. Following FTX’s relocation to the Bahamas in 2021, Mr. Salame acted as an intermediary between the company and the local government and was appointed Co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, the exchange’s Bahamian operating entity.
As the cryptocurrency market boomed and FTX hit a $32 billion valuation, Mr. Salame became very rich. Bankruptcy Attorneys and Advisors for FTX March said Mr. Salame received $87 million in bonuses and loans from Alameda. He is one of six executives receiving a total of $3.2 billion in compensation.
Splitting his time between Washington and the Bahamas, Mr. Salam began dating Michelle Bond, who runs a cryptocurrency lobby and is running for Congress as a Republican from Long Island. without success.At home in the Berkshires, Mr Salame purchase Several local restaurants, some of which were struggling during the height of the pandemic, have earned him a reputation as a hometown hero.
Mr. Salame and Ms. Bond also bought the home that was raided Thursday in the upscale Washington, D.C. suburb
Prosecutors said Mr. Bankman-Fried orchestrated a “straw donation” scheme to avoid restrictions on campaign contributions, recruiting executives to act as agents for his firm and donating tens of millions of dollars to both parties.
The amended indictment against Mr. Bankman-Fried recently identified Mr. Salame’s donations as part of the scheme, saying the FTX founder wanted to “conceal” his support for Republican politicians.
Emily Fleet Contribution report.