Nishad Singh, the former executive at bankrupt cryptocurrency firm FTX who contributed $500,000 to the Democratic Party of Oregon, pleaded guilty to criminal charges today, including one related to his allegedly fraudulent campaign giving, Reuters and other news outlets reported.
Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan is investigating whether Singh’s October contribution was made under a false name, a violation of Oregon law.
Today in federal court in New York, Singh said he agreed to make campaign contributions in his name that were in fact funded in part by transfers from the crypto firm Alameda Research. That money, in turn, came from customer deposits at FTX, federal prosecutors allege. Both firms were controlled by FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
“I am unbelievably sorry for my role in all of this,” Singh told the court, according to Reuters. Singh said he knew that Alameda Research was borrowing FTX customer funds, and that FTX customers didn’t know about the transfers, according to Reuters.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was one of the biggest political donors in the country during the 2022 election.
“Nishad Singh’s guilty plea today supports our email response to the Secretary of State’s Office last week,” Brad Martin, executive director of the Democratic Party of Oregon, said in an email.
In that response, DPO lawyer Dayna Underhill said:
“We understand from press reports that the secretary of state is currently investigating Singh for falsely representing the source of his contribution to the party. The press has also reported that Singh is under federal criminal investigation and may soon enter a guilty plea to federal fraud charges. Singh’s former associate, Sam Bankman-Fried, is under federal indictment for conspiring, potentially with Singh, to violate federal campaign finance laws. Each or all of these investigations could result in a finding invalidating this proposed penalty under the clearly established fraud standard. In light of Singh’s fraudulent conduct, and the multiple ongoing investigations, the proposed fine is inappropriate and should not be issued. At a minimum, any proceedings regarding this proposed penalty should be held in abeyance until the investigations are complete.”
The fine Underhill refers to is a proposed $35,000 penalty imposed by Fagan’s office for changing the donor’s name on a contribution to Singh’s after the deadline for doing so. That late fine is a separate matter from Fagan’s investigation into whether the contribution was made under a false name.
The penalty is “proposed” because, while Fagan’s office has determined that there was a violation, the DPO has the right to due process, such as appealing the decision or claiming mitigating circumstances, a spokesman for Fagan’s office said.
(An earlier version of this story said that the penalty for the DPO was “imposed” by Fagan. It was, rather, proposed, because the DPO has the right to appeal. WW regrets the error.)