Shark Tank Star Kevin O’Leary Slams Binance, Says the Exchange Caused FTX to Collapse on Purpose
Well-known Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary slammed Binance in comments given during a Senate hearing on Wednesday, saying a “war” between FTX and Binance ultimately caused FTX’s collapse.
During the hearing, Kevin O’Leary said Binance and FTX were “at war with each other, and one put the other out of business intentionally,” while adding that Binance – as the winner of that war – now is a “massive unregulated global monopoly.” He added,
“They put FTX out of business,”
The strong allegation refers to a public Twitter feud between the two crypto exchange executives Sam Bankman-Fried and Changpeng Zhao, better known as CZ. On November 6, CZ announced that Binance would sell all remaining FTT tokens it had received from FTX when it exited as a shareholder from the company last year:
CZ withheld info to regulators
In the hearing, O’Leary strongly hinted that Changpeng “CZ” Zhao ran Binance in a way that did not comply with regulations and that CZ had no intention of trying to comply. When CZ was asked by regulators for information that would clear his firm to get the necessary regulatory approvals, CZ often did not provide the necessary information, O’Leary alleged.
“He withheld it, according to Sam Bankman-Fried,” O’Leary said during questioning after his testimony.
That became a problem for FTX, given that Binance was a shareholder, and Binance’s name was brought up by regulators “every time” FTX applied for regulatory licenses around the world, O’Leary said that Bankman-Fried had told him.
The crypto industry’s promise remains
O’Leary further said that although he personally, as well as many others, did lose money on the FTX collapse, “it does not change this industry’s promise.”
“We need to get to the bottom of what happened at FTX, but we can’t let its collapse cause us to abandon the great promise and potential of crypto,” O’Leary concluded his testimony by saying.
The remarks were made during a hearing at the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on the FTX collapse and alleged fraud.
Paid spokesperson for FTX
As previously reported, Kevin O’Leary received $15m from FTX to be the company’s official spokesperson. However, during a recent appearance on CNBC, he admitted that he lost almost all of the money as the exchange collapsed.
Kevin O’Leary’s affiliation with FTX has been pointed out by many, including CZ himself. Writing on Twitter on Friday last week, CZ said that the $15m O’Leary received from FTX “not only changed [his] mind about crypto, it also made him align with a fraudster.”
The strong words against the famed investor and TV personality came after O’Leary on TV had hinted – as during yesterday’s hearing – that it was Binance, and the perceived need by FTX to buy back shares once held by Binance, that ultimately brought down the company.
“One of the biggest uses of cash was the buyback of shares from Binance, which owned 20% of his exchange,” O’Leary explained that Bankman-Fried had told him when he asked where all the money went.