Kevin O’Leary, an investor best known from the show Shark Tank, was asked on Tuesday if he’d still invest in Sam Bankman-Fried again, even after the FTX founder admitted to funneling billions of dollars in customer funds to his own hedge fund and caused the crypto platform to file for bankruptcy last week, upending the entire cryptocurrency sector. O’Leary thinks about the question for a few seconds and said yes, he would invest in Bankman-Fried, in a clip that’s gone viral on social media.
O’Leary, who’s previously been a paid spokesperson for FTX, made the shocking admission on an episode of the YouTube show Crypto Banter which boasts over half a million subscribers. O’Leary admitted that while Bankman-Fried, or SBF as he’s often known, could actually go to prison for what he did, the 30-year-old is supposedly a genius who should get a second chance.
“I think we can all admit—you can love him or hate him, given what’s happened—but he was one of the most brilliant traders in the crypto universe. He also built one of the most robust platforms. We used FTX actively. It was a very robust platform that allowed us to get information on a compliant basis, so I really like what he built…” O’Leary said.
“Would you back him?” Crypto Banter host Ran Neuner asked.
“The answer would be yes. And I’ll tell you how I would do it. I would do it in a different context. He would not have operational control of the assets. He would have trading control,” O’Leary explained.
O’Leary, who was also a shareholder in FTX, said he last talked with SBF on Thursday, not long before FTX filed for bankruptcy. And the Shark Tank celebrity really couldn’t say enough nice things about SBF, assuring viewers that he was a brilliant mind and suggesting he’ll come out on top when the dust has settled.
“I know all the players in the cryptocurrency market, and I’m just telling you, there’s nobody quite like him,” O’Leary said.
SBF used at least $10 billion in FTX customer funds to prop up his hedge fund Alameda Research, according to Reutersin a move that’s very much against the laws of traditional finance. And that’s to say nothing of what FTX was counting as assets, which have to be counted as fraud by any plain reading of the word. FTX was using fake money it created in the form of two tokens, FTT and Serum, and passing those off as real money.
It’s not just O’Leary who’s treating this incredibly illegal and fraudulent act as some kind of oopsie-daisy. The New York Times ran a strange sympathetic article recently that painted a picture of SBF as merely a guy who had some bad luck with his investment decisions.
O’Leary says repeatedly in the new interview with Crypto Banter that we don’t know the facts yet and he’s going to wait until we know more about what happened at FTX. But we actually do know plenty of facts at this point, thanks not only to diligent reporting at outlets like Reuters and the Financial Times—because SBF himself has admitted that he used FTX funds in the billions to make risky bets at Alameda.
And yet O’Leary describes SBF as “productive,” “disciplined,” and “efficient” in the new interview, which is available on YouTube.
“Sam Bankman-Fried is an unusual one-percent person in terms of understanding how these assets work,” O’Leary said.
Well, we have to agree with you there, Mr. O’Leary. SBF certainly knew how Ponzi schemes work. But we wouldn’t give him a dime after all the pain he’s caused for average working people who trusted FTX with their money.