‘Shark Tank’ Star Kevin O’Leary Defends Involvement With FTX In Senate Testimony

Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

James Lynch Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

“Shark Tank” star and long-time investor Kevin O’Leary defended his involvement with bankrupt crypto exchange FTX in written testimony Wednesday.

O’Leary testified to the Senate Banking Committee about his agreement to be a spokesperson for FTX in August 2021. O’Leary disclosed in written testimony he was paid $15 million by FTX for his role, in addition to an extra $3 million to fund a portion of his tax bill.

He invested $1 million in FTX equity and $10 million in crypto tokens held in FTX wallets, all from a personal operating company, O’Leary testified. The holdings in FTX are worth zero and his crypto accounts have been stripped of financial assets and financial records, O’Leary said.

He is pursuing a financial audit of FTX and pledged to use his own capital to assist with recovering FTX accounts, O’Leary testified. While assessing the FTX situation, O’Leary expressed his belief that “The collapse of FTX is nothing new. While this situation is painful for shareholders, employees and account holders, in the long run, it does not change this industry’s promise.”

O’Leary is an investor in multiple crypto companies and tokens, technologies which he thinks “are going to disrupt the existing financial services sector with faster, more efficient, more productive and more secure ways of investing, paying, transferring and tracking assets.”

“If properly regulated and implemented, they will undoubtedly make the entire American economy more competitive and productive,” O’Leary added in his testimony. (RELATED: Watch The Look On Rep. Ann Wagner’s Face When She Finds Out That FTX Used QuickBooks)

He called for additional regulation of the crypto industry to prevent such collapses as the one that happened to FTX from occurring in the future, and compared the industry to other securities such as stocks and bonds.

O’Leary has been moving his crypto assets to his native Canada, the only country offering fully regulated accounts on broker-dealer crypto exchanges, Insider reported.

He is placing some of his assets in crypto exchange WonderFi, a publicly traded company controleld by Canadian securities regulators, according to Insider.

O’Leary is an investor in WonderFi’s parent company and expressed confidence in Canada’s regulatory environment for crypt0, Insider added. He is a longtime investor in the tech sector, financial markets and other services, and the founder of a renowned fine wine label, according to his official “Shark Tank” bio.

FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Nov. 11 in the wake of a report alleging the company had misused customer funds. It was founded in 2019 and reached a $40 billion valuation by investors in early 2022, Forbes reported.

U.S. federal prosecutors indicted FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried on eight counts of wire fraud and conspiracy Tuesday. Multiple regulatory agencies have made similar allegations in civil complaints brought against Bankman-Fried.