The chief executive of the largest online cryptocurrency exchange Binance has criticized the former CEO of the bankrupt exchange FTX and has targeted economist Nouriel Roubini.
Appearing Thursday at the Milken Institute’s Middle East and Africa Summit, Changpeng Zhao, known as “CZ”, was asked to respond to a tweet by Sam Bankman-Freed in which he mentioned a “sparring partner” believed to be CZ.
related investment news
“When he tweets about a sparring partner, his house is on fire and all this is happening, he loses focus. I didn’t know there was such a problem with FTX, otherwise we would have sold these FTT tokens a long time ago,” Dan Murphy of CNBC said.
“The day he tweeted this, he should have been working on other things. He shouldn’t have been tweeting.”
Zhao also added details about Binance’s decision on Nov. 9 to pull out of the deal in order to save rival exchange FTX.
“To be perfectly clear [Bankman-Fried] came to me. When he came to me, I realized that he was in despair. So probably a bunch of people backed out of the deal before us,” Zhao said on Thursday.
“It didn’t take long for us to realize that there were much bigger problems. [at FTX] than we thought,” he added.
Binance co-founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao has given several interviews where he discusses the outlook for the cryptocurrency after a couple of turbulent weeks in the market.
NurPhoto / Author / Getty Images
When asked if he considered the former FTX CEO a criminal, Zhao said he would leave that judgment up to other people, but said that “[knew] there was a lie and there was a misappropriation of the people’s funds, which he called a “fraud”.
In a separate interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box on Thursday, Zhao said he was “really shocked” when he learned about Bankman-Freed’s behavior.
“I am shocked that he lied to everyone. I didn’t know he was lying to everyone until a week ago,” Zhao said.
CNBC has contacted FTX and Bankman-Fried for a response to the comments, but has yet to receive a response.
Economist Nouriel Roubini also appeared during the interview after calling Changpeng Zhao one of the “seven Cs of cryptography” – an unflattering list that also included “hidden, corrupt, scammers, criminals, swindlers, carnival barkers.”
Roubini called the cryptocurrency and some of its major players a “totally corrupt ecosystem” at an Abu Dhabi Finance Week event on Wednesday.
Zhao’s response to the criticism was simple: “We don’t care,” he told CNBC on Thursday.
“Negative energy doesn’t spread far in life and these people tend to stay poor,” he said, implying that Roubini was “very impolite” and someone who “doesn’t know the local customs.”
Roubini did not immediately respond to a request for comment when CNBC contacted him through his website.
The CEO had a busy week of speaking and said on Wednesday that the cryptocurrency would “be fine” after he announced plans for a recovery fund for people who have gone through a difficult period in the industry.
“We want strong industry players today to protect good industry players who may suffer in the short term,” Zhao said, also speaking from Abu Dhabi.
The cryptocurrency has been in the spotlight this week after FTX filed for bankruptcy on Friday and the price of bitcoin plunged below $17,000 for the first time since 2020.
These events have also raised concerns that the so-called crypto-contagion could lead to the downfall of other large companies such as Crypto.com. The company’s CEO denied the allegations and said the platform was “operating as normal.”
“In the short term, there are many challenges, but in the long term, this accelerates the efforts we are making to make this industry healthier,” Zhao said on Wednesday.