Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary says that the collapse of FTX made him and other prominent investors look ‘like idiots.’
In a new interview on CNBC Squawk Box, O’Leary says former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried being an American citizen subject to US laws contributed to making the company an attractive investment for institutional investors.
He also says that some of the narratives centered around Bankman-Fried, such as having parents who are compliance lawyers, kept investors from thinking anything was amiss.
“I obviously know all the institutional investors in this deal. We all look like idiots. Let’s put that on the table. We relied on each other’s due diligence, but we also relied on another investment theme that I felt drove a lot of interest in FTX.
Sam Bankman-Fried is an American. His parents are American compliance lawyers. There were no other [large] American exchanges to invest in if you wanted to invest in crypto as an infrastructure play.”
O’Leary was a crypto critic early on, but later became a highly-paid spokesperson for FTX as well as an investor. He says his position changed after he noticed increased crypto adoption around the world.
“I recall that conversation calling [crypto] garbage right here on this show in 2017. That was a time when a New York hotel was being tokenized here, and I was looking at that and the regulator let me know they were not happy with that idea.
And that’s when I stepped away from this because clearly the regulatory environment was not prepared. Then facts changed. I saw the Canadians issue the first ETF [exchange-traded fund] with Bitcoin. Then Switzerland opened up. Then Australia opened up and then I said, ‘Wait a second, world’s changing, I got to be an investor.’ And that started my journey. I’m an investor in the largest regulated exchange in Canada called WonderFi.”
The business magnate also reveals that he was paid about $15 million to act as an FTX spokesperson. He says he invested $9.7 million worth of crypto in an FTX account, which is now at $0.
He says he is working to retrieve his lost funds from the account and also notes that $1 million he invested in FTX’s equity.
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