Now that FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is in custody, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has apparently found another sparring partner. Celebrity businessman Kevin O’Leary, standing as the ex-FTX chief’s unofficial advocate, shot back at Zhao saying he’s part of the FTX implosion story.
O’Leary appeared Wednesday at the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs hearing on FTX’s collapse and alleged fraud. He said that the bankrupt crypto exchange and its largest rival, Binance, “were at war with each other and one put the other out of business intentionally.” And because FTX has fallen, Binance is now an “unregulated global monopoly”–alleging it was the goal of the largest crypto exchange.
When asked where did FTX money go, O’Leary theorized that some of it flowed to Binance when Bankman-Fried purchased out FTX shares from Binance.
On CNBC’s Squawk Box, Zhao was asked about O’Leary’s testimony at the Senate hearing, particularly about the funds that allegedly went to Binance.
“Kevin O’Leary is making a bunch of nonsense claims. They don’t make sense, they don’t make any logic,” Zhao answered.
In the interview, Zhao was also questioned if Binance was willing to repay to bankruptcy trustees the $2.1 billion payment it received from FTX when it withdrew its 2019 Series A investment.
The trustee may reclaim any beneficiary within a two-year lookback period if bankruptcy proceedings prove that the payment was fraudulent or that the individual should have had reasonable information that the payment was false.
Zhao stated that Binance is “financially sound,” but he would defer to the “perfectly capable” lawyers.
The next day, O’Leary appeared on the same show and was asked about Zhao’s remarks. Essentially, he disputed the Binance chief’s answers and claimed that “he is part of the story, too,” doubling down on the proceeds the exchange received when FTX bought out its equity.
“And then [Zhao] confirmed that he still had $550 million… of FTT tokens,” O’Leary pointed out. “Why was Sam Bankman-Fried or the whole company of FTX forced into bankruptcy? It was jamming down that last half a billion that gave him no option.”
The celebrity businessman also added that he believes that was the “fatal blow” that allowed Binance to get rid of a “global competitor.”
Sam Bankman-Fried is currently being held in prison in the Bahamas while awaiting extradition to the US where he’s facing eight counts of criminal charges, including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, among others. He is also facing charges brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
And yet, O’Leary, who admitted to being paid $15 million to become an FTX spokesperson, has been telling people the same narrative Bankman-Fried had been trying to sell to anyone who’d give him airtime.
Information for this briefing was found via CNBC and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.