Former FTX spokesman Kevin O’Leary defends endorsement of Bankman-Fried’s 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 Field” on Friday.

“That is America. The justice system gives 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 previous FTX CEO was arrested by Bahamian authorities earlier this week, pending extradition and trial to face fees in U.S. federal court docket.

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

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

“Joe, unhealthy information. I’ve a really massive 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 truly make investments a few of your individual funds?”

“Cash is fungible,” O’Leary replied.

“So that you did not. As soon as once more, you are a enterprise investor who ventured your identify,” Kernan 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. Conventional enterprise investing sometimes entails 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 corporations 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 information. [New FTX CEO] John Ray would not have them but. He will get them,” O’Leary responded. “I am trying by way of my information. I am prepared to fund a forensic account of our accounts.”

Watch CNBC's full discussion with Kevin O'Leary about his relationship with FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried

“There are a number of unhealthy issues which were alleged right here, and a number of them are going to be true, seemingly,” he added.

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

“I perceive that the herd is indignant,” the businessman, who can 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 tips on how to perceive if FTX was problematic or not.

“Corporations promote, they usually do it this manner,” O’Leary mentioned.

Kernen additionally pressed O’Leary on his fast 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.

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

“Then I am flawed about that,” O’Leary mentioned. “The purpose is, it was lengthy earlier than I turned a paid spokesperson. Lengthy earlier than.”

“I really like getting sandpapered by you guys every single day. It is improbable,” O’Leary concluded.

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

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