Binance co-founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao has given several interviews to discuss the outlook for cryptocurrency after a turbulent couple of weeks in the market.
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The CEO of the largest online cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, criticized the former CEO of the bankrupt exchange FTX and took aim at economist Nouriel Roubini.
Changpeng Zhao, known as “CZ,”[ads1]; appeared at the Milken Institute’s Middle East and Africa Summit on Thursday and 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 stuff happens, he loses focus. I didn’t know this problem existed in FTX before, or we would have sold these FTT tokens a long time ago,” he told CNBC’s Dan Murphy .
“The day he tweeted that, he should have been doing other things. He shouldn’t be tweeting.”
Zhao also added details of Binance’s decision to back out of a deal to rescue rival exchange FTX on November 9.
“To be perfectly 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 Thursday.
“It didn’t take long before we realized there were much bigger problems [at FTX] than we imagined,” he added.
When asked if he thought the former FTX boss was a criminal, Zhao said he would leave that judgment to other people, but said he “[knew] there have been lies and there has been misuse of people’s funds’ which he described as ‘fraud’.
CNBC has reached out to FTX and Bankman-Fried for comment, but has yet to receive a response.
Economist Nouriel Roubini also came up during the interview after he described Changpeng Zhao as one of the “seven Cs of crypto” – an unflattering list that also included “hidden, corrupt, crooks, criminals, fraudsters, carnival barkers.”
Roubini described crypto and some of its major players as an “ecosystem that is totally corrupt” 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, suggesting Roubini was “very rude” and someone who “doesn’t know the local custom.”
The CEO has had a busy week of speaking engagements, saying on Wednesday that cryptocurrency “will be fine” after announcing plans for a recovery fund for people who have hit a rough patch in the industry.
“We want the strong industry players today to protect the good industry players who can only be hurt in the short term,” said Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, also speaking from Abu Dhabi.
Cryptocurrency has been 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 also sparked concerns that the so-called “crypto contagion” could lead to the downfall of other big industry names, such as Crypto.com. The company’s CEO denied the allegations, saying the platform was “conducting business as usual.”
“In the short term, it’s a lot of pain, but in the long term, it accelerates the efforts we’re making to make this industry healthier,” Zhao said Wednesday.