Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary, a spokesperson for FTX, explains his next move after the crypto crash and how he tried to save Sam Bankman-Fried

Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, a spokesperson for FTX, explains his next move after the crypto crash and how he tried to save Sam Bankman-Fried

  • In an interview with Insider, Kevin O’Leary explained his next move now that FTX, a company he invested in, has filed for bankruptcy.
  • The ‘Shark Tank’ investor said he was transferring his assets to Canada and would no longer hold funds on unregulated exchanges.
  • He also shared details of his phone call with FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

“Shark Tank” investor Kevin O’Leary has had his hands full lately, deciding where to put his money after gauging interest in a potential FTX bailout that ultimately fell through.

A paid spokesperson and investor in the bankrupt exchange, the market veteran spent the weekend on calls trying to sort through rumors surrounding founder Sam Bankman-Fried and how much of his money could be recovered.

“I’m writing all of this from scratch,” O’Leary told Insider. “It’s unclear what can be salvaged. There are a lot of allegations floating around. But frankly, I’ve seen this movie before. It’s a difficult situation, there’s no doubt. There will be a mountain of litigation.”

On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bankman-Fried was trying to raise money to repay clients, while FTX warned it could have more than a million creditors.

The company’s collapse shook confidence in the cryptocurrency industry, and O’Leary, a Canadian-born, began moving his assets elsewhere. Canada is the only country that offers fully regulated broker exchange accounts, he said.

In his opinion, unregulated exchanges are not safe, regardless of size, so he turned to crypto exchange WonderFi, which is regulated by the Ontario Securities Exchange. It is a shareholder of the parent company, and it was also the first crypto-trading platform on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

“We are confident that the regulatory environment in Canada looks at accounts that cannot be aggregated,” O’Leary said. “I can’t find any other place on Earth right now that is safer than Canada.”

A phone call with Bankman-Fried

O’Leary said he doesn’t think the market has seen the bottom of FTX’s fallout yet, marking a sharp reversal from two and a half years ago when FTX’s management team tipped it off. approached to set up a 30-minute meeting with Bankman-Fried.

It turned into a three hour lunch. O’Leary then met Bankman-Fried’s parents – both lawyers – and gained confidence seeing other major global investors backing FTX.

While federal regulators are reportedly investigating FTX and Bankman-Fried, who resigned as CEO last week, for potentially mismanaging client funds, O’Leary argues he’s never met a more witty mind. brilliant when it comes to crypto and blockchain.

“He’s a scholar,” he said. “He’s probably one of the most accomplished crypto traders in the world, so I was very impressed.”

Given his insight, O’Leary finds it hard to believe Bankman-Fried didn’t realize the risks he was taking, as reports indicate he moved billions of funds from FTX clients to his trading arm. AlamedaResearch. The 30-year-old founder will have “a lot of explaining to do” when all the facts emerge, he said.

O’Leary said he spent last Thursday fielding calls from potential investors in FTX. Sovereign wealth funds were interested in the amount of $6 billion to $8 billion, according to O’Leary, but the exact amount was unclear. O’Leary messaged Bankman-Fried to ask him about it, and he got a call immediately.

“He confirmed it was $8 billion, and that’s the number I came up with,” O’Leary said. “We had a brief conversation. He was very rational. We discussed a few things about, you know, the timing of this $6-8 billion. But that was enough information for me to go back to interested sources. and confirms that the number was eight.”

Bankman-Fried also said on the call, according to O’Leary, that regulators would “crack down” on the situation.

But as reports swirled that the Securities and Exchange Commission and other global regulators were closing in on FTX, bailout offers dried up shortly after the pair’s phone call.

“All those interested parties were gone,” O’Leary said. “I threw it back to Sam. I didn’t have a conversation with him, and I told him that wasn’t an option.”

Still, O’Leary believes that if a sovereign wealth fund or other buyer had invested around $4 billion, investors would once again have felt safe keeping their assets in FTX.

“So what was really on the table and debated around the world was that you could buy a $32 billion asset for $4 billion,” he said.

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