Binance Co-Founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao gave several interviews on the outlook for the cryptocurrency after a turbulent few weeks in the market.
The chief executive of the largest online cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, has slammed the former CEO of bankrupt exchange FTX and targeted economist Nouriel Roubini.
Appearing at the Milken Institute’s Middle East and Africa Summit on Thursday, Changpeng Zhao, known as “CZ,” was asked to respond to a tweet from Sam Bankman-Fried in which he referred to a ” sparring partner”, widely believed to be CZ, the boss of rival exchange Binance.
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“When he tweets about a sparring partner his house burns down and all this happens he loses focus. I didn’t know this problem existed in FTX before, otherwise we would have sold these FTT tokens a while ago a long time,” he told CNBC’s Dan Murphy.
“That day when he tweeted that he should have been working on other things. He shouldn’t have been tweeting.”
Zhao also added details about Binance’s decision to pull out of a deal to save rival exchange FTX on November 2. 9.
“To be absolutely clear [Bankman-Fried] came to me. When he came to me, I knew he was desperate. So probably a bunch of people passed on the deal before us,” Zhao said on Thursday.
“It didn’t take us very long to realize there were much bigger issues. [at FTX] than we imagined,” he added.
When asked if he thought the former CEO of FTX was a criminal, Zhao said he would leave that judgment to other people, but said he “[knew] there were lies and there was embezzlement of people’s funds”, which he described as “fraud”.
CNBC has reached out to FTX and Bankman-Fried for a response to the comments but has yet to receive a response.
Economist Nouriel Roubini also chimed in during the interview after describing Changpeng Zhao as one of the “seven Cs of crypto” – an unflattering list that also included “hidden, corrupt, scammers, criminals, con artists, barkers carnival”.
Roubini described crypto and some of its major players as 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 go far in life and these people will generally remain poor,” he said, implying that Roubini was “very rude” and someone who “doesn’t know the local custom.”
The CEO had a busy week of speaking engagements and said Wednesday that the cryptocurrency will “be fine” after announcing plans for a stimulus fund for people who have fallen on hard times in the industry.
“We want the strong industry players today to protect the good industry players who might be hurt in the short term,” said Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, also speaking from Abu Dhabi.
The cryptocurrency was in the spotlight this week after Binance’s rival exchange FTX declared bankruptcy on Friday and the price of bitcoin fell below $17,000 for the first time since 2020.
The events have also raised concerns that the so-called “crypto contagion” could bring down other big names in the industry, such as Crypto.com. The company’s CEO denied the allegations and said the platform was “business as usual”.
“In the short term, there is a lot of pain, but in the long term, it accelerates our efforts to make this industry healthier,” Zhao said Wednesday.