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  • Kevin O’Leary said he previously earned $15 million as an FTX brand ambassador.
  • The “Shark Tank” host testified to the Senate Banking Committee earlier this week about his involvement with the company.
  • O’Leary is among several high-profile defendants named in the lawsuit filed by FTX investors.

“Shark Tank” host and FTX investor Kevin O’Leary said he’s giving Sam Bankman-Fried the benefit of the doubt on the cryptocurrency market crash.

Fresh from his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, O’Leary, who received $15 million from FTX as a brand ambassador, appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Friday, where he was grilled about his role at the company and Bankman-Fried about alleged statements. fraud

“I don’t have the facts,” O’Leary said. “[New FTX CEO] John Ray doesn’t have them yet. He’s going to get them. I’m flipping through my notes. I’m willing to fund a forensic account of our bills.”

He went on to appear at various points defending Bankman-Fried in discussions with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, Joe Kernan and Becky Quick.

“This is America. The justice system provides the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty,” O’Leary said.

Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas on Monday, where he remains in custody after US federal prosecutors charged the former CEO with eight counts, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Meanwhile, O’Leary is among several high-profile defendants, including NFL star Tom Brady and comedian Larry David, included in a class-action lawsuit for publicly promoting FTX before his death.

In an interview, O’Leary defended himself and fellow investors by noting the nature of the risk involved in venture capital.

“Obviously, none of us would want to be in this mess if we could avoid it, but we just didn’t know,” he said. “Honestly, the thing about venture investing is that you can do all the due diligence you want, eight times out of ten it comes to nothing.”

O’Leary told CNBC that he believes creditors who lost money on FTX should be compensated first, while shareholders who assumed the risk should accept the loss.

“The shareholders, including me, I don’t think we should get anything back,” he said. “We’re venture capitalists, we’re the big guys, we lost our money, we understand that. I don’t want to put anything back in there until the people who had money in their accounts get theirs back.”

In the same interview, O’Leary also defended himself against comments made by Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, who called the “Shark Tank” TV host a “liar.”

“CZ called me a liar on air yesterday. That means I perjured myself in front of the US Senate for two hours this week. I can assure you it is not,” O’Leary said.


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