Former FTX spokesman Kevin O’Leary defends endorsement of crypto agency

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“Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary defended his place as a spokesperson for bankrupt crypto agency FTX on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday.

“This is America. The justice system supplies the presumption of innocence until confirmed in any other case,” O’Leary responded when requested why he did not extra stridently condemn Bankman-Fried. The former FTX CEO was arrested by Bahamian authorities earlier this week, pending extradition and trial to face fees in U.S. federal courtroom.

O’Leary was pressed on his paid FTX ambassadorship, enterprise capital profession and his protection of Sam Bankman-Fried days earlier than his arrest by CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, Joe Kernen and Becky Quick.

Kernen minced no phrases with the Canadian businessman. “Are you continue to calling your self a enterprise investor?” the Squawk Box host requested O’Leary. “Your enterprise investing was your title with the ability to used as a spokesperson?”

“Joe, unhealthy information. I’ve a really giant advisory enterprise,” O’Leary retorted. Kernen continued to press O’Leary. “Are you continue to conflating cash you bought paid by FTX that you simply misplaced, or did you really make investments a few of your individual funds?”

“Money is fungible,” O’Leary replied.

“So you did not. Once once more, you are a enterprise investor who ventured your title,” Kernen mentioned. “You did not even pay your individual cash on the taxes.”

O’Leary continued to return to his misplaced $10 million funding in FTX, which was given to him as a part of his compensation for showing as a paid spokesperson. Traditional enterprise investing sometimes includes a fund or particular person investing their very own funds in a enterprise.

“They needed to open that spherical for me,” O’Leary mentioned. “I’ve 54 firms in my portfolio proper now.”

“Kevin, you’re an actor on this drama, and also you had a front-row seat to Bankman-Fried up till the very finish,” Sorkin mentioned. “What do you assume occurred? Do you assume this was a fraud?”

“I haven’t got the details. [New FTX CEO] John Ray does not have them but. He’s going to get them,” O’Leary responded. “I’m wanting by means of my information. I’m keen to fund a forensic account of our accounts.”

“There are plenty of unhealthy issues which have been alleged right here, and plenty of them are going to be true, possible,” he added.

But on the similar time, O’Leary mentioned he wasn’t inclined to indulge outraged traders on Twitter.

“I perceive that the herd is offended,” the businessman, who can also be a CNBC contributor, mentioned.

Sorkin additionally noticed that, versus Tom Brady or Larry David, traders would possibly anticipate that O’Leary knew higher than most the best way to perceive if FTX was problematic or not.

“Companies promote, and so they do it this fashion,” O’Leary mentioned.

Kernen additionally pressed O’Leary on his speedy about-face on bitcoin.

“Did that conversion coincide with the $15 million you bought from FTX?” Kernen requested. “No,” O’Leary mentioned, stating that his bitcoin investing started years earlier than his ambassadorship for FTX, in 2018.

But Sorkin pointed to a 2019 tv look and famous that O’Leary referred to as bitcoin “rubbish.”

“Then I’m unsuitable about that,” O’Leary mentioned. “The level is, it was lengthy earlier than I grew to become a paid spokesperson. Long earlier than.”

“I really like getting sandpapered by you guys day by day. It’s incredible,” O’Leary concluded.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the unique off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”

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