Binance’s CEO denounces Samuel Bankman-Fried’s erratic behavior

Binance’s co-founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao has given several interviews discussing the outlook for cryptocurrency after a turbulent few weeks in the market.

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The top executive of the largest online cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, criticized the former CEO of bankrupt exchange FTX and took aim at economist Nouriel Roubini.

Changpeng Zhao, known as “CZ”, 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”, much of which is believed to be CZ, the boss of rival exchange Binance.

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“When he tweets about a sparring partner, his house is on fire and all this happens, he loses focus. I didn’t know this problem existed in FTX, otherwise we would have sold those FTT tokens a long time ago,” he told Dan Murphy from CNBC.

“The day he tweeted that, he should have been working on other things. He shouldn’t have written any tweets.”

Zhao also added details about Binance’s decision to pull out of a deal to rescue rival exchange FTX on November 9.

“To be very clear [Bankman-Fried] came to me. When he came to me, I knew he was desperate. So probably some people passed on the deal for us,” Zhao said on Thursday.

“It didn’t take us long to find out that there were much bigger problems [at FTX] than we imagined,” he added.

When asked if he thought the former FTX CEO 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 misappropriation of people’s money,” which he described as “fraud.”

CNBC has reached out to FTX and Bankman-Fried for a response to the comments, but has not yet received a response.

Binance CEO: Didn't know he and FTX CEO were 'sparring partners'

Economist Nouriel Roubini also came forward during the interview after describing Changpeng Zhao as one of the “seven Cs of crypto” – an unflattering list that also included “hidden, corrupt, crooks, criminals, scammers, carnival barkers.”

Roubini described crypto and some of its key 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 get very far in life and those people will generally remain poor,” he said, suggesting that Roubini was “very rude” and someone who “doesn’t know the local customs.”

Binance's CEO responds to Nouriel Roubini's comments

Having had a busy week of speaking engagements, the CEO said on Wednesday that cryptocurrency “will be fine” after announcing plans for a recovery fund for those struggling in the industry.

“We want the strong players in the industry today to protect the good players in the industry who might be hurt in the near term,” said Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, also speaking from Abu Dhabi.

Cryptocurrency was in the spotlight this week after Binance’s rival exchange FTX filed for bankruptcy on Friday and bitcoin’s price fell below $17,000 for the first time since 2020.

The events also raised concerns that the so-called “crypto contagion” could lead to the demise of other big industry names such as Crypto.com. The company’s CEO denied the claims, saying the platform was doing “business as usual”.

“There is a lot of pain in the short term, but in the long term it accelerates the efforts we are making to make this industry healthier,” Zhao said Wednesday.

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