The investor, “Shark Tank” judge and CNBC contributor Kevin O’Leary, said Thursday that he has lost the $15 million FTX paid him to be a spokesperson for a now-collapsed cryptocurrency exchange that some have called fraud.
O’Leary and other celebrities, such as Tom Brady and Larry David, have been sued by FTX investors who say exchange ambassadors should have done more due diligence and exercised greater diligence before promoting their cryptocurrency empire.
The Canadian investor was interviewed by CNBC’s Squawk Box“ Hosts for failing to properly assess the risks associated with the investment and promotion of FTX. O’Leary said he fell prey to “groupthink”, and none of his investment partners ever lost money.
“The total deal was just under $15 million, all available,” O’Leary said. “I invested about $9.7 million in cryptocurrency. I think that’s what I lost. I don’t know. It’s all at zero.”
He also said he has more than $1 million in FTX shares, which have now been rendered worthless through the bankruptcy protection process. According to O’Leary, the balance of just over $4 million was eaten up by taxes and agent fees.
O’Leary aggressively promoted FTX on Twitter and online, pointing to his close relationship with disgraced founder Sam Bankman-Fred, who faces multiple investigations.
When O’Leary first started promoting FTX, he said it was FTX’s compliance regulations that led him to invest in the cryptocurrency exchange.
Finally resolved my compliance issues with # digital currenciesO’Leary wrote on LinkedIn and in a since-deleted tweet in August 2021.
Ultimately, the Delaware bankruptcy protection filings by new FTX CEO John Ray III would characterize FTX’s risk, audit and compliance procedures as “a complete failure of corporate controls.”
“It wasn’t a good investment,” O’Leary said Thursday.
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”