Kevin O’Leary, a TV personality and self-described ‘Mr. Wonderful,’ has decided to endorse a new cryptocurrency exchange called M2. In a 54-second video clip posted to X, O’Leary details how soon the new exchange will launch, how it will be the largest regulated crypto exchange, how half of Binance’s accounts will switch to M2, and how there are billions of dollars in backing from serious financial institutions.
The video also includes a 14-second ad in which O’Leary claims, “I am Mr. Wonderful and I am small business.”
This isn’t O’Leary’s first exposure to ‘regulated’ crypto exchanges, and he’s previously insisted that FTX was an exemplary exchange and one where he felt confident that “if there is ever a place I can be where I’m not going to get in trouble, it’s FTX.”
Since then, FTX has declared bankruptcy, its CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has been convicted of seven felonies, and several other executives, including Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang, Nishad Singh, and Ryan Salame, have also pleaded guilty to felony offenses.
O’Leary was a paid spokesperson for FTX, claiming that he received approximately $15 million in exchange for his support. He claims that this money was almost all lost after a series of bad crypto investments.
In his endorsement, O’Leary said that M2 is based out of Abu Dhabi, which is somewhat true. M2 Global Wealth Limited is incorporated out of the Bahamas, and its initial licensing came under the Bahamas DARE Act. Confusingly, it appears that M2 received a ‘Financial Services Permission’ in the Abu Dhabi Global Market in August. However, the Security Commission of the Bahamas ‘Register of Digital Asset Businesses’ for September 30, 2023 doesn’t have this license listed on its registration.
Despite the fact that the company is set up and initially licensed in the Bahamas, O’Leary isn’t completely wrong that the firm is based in Abu Dhabi, with investment and executives for M2 coming from the Abu Dhabi-based Phoenix Group.
UAE links raise red flags
The firm also has connections to the government of the United Arab Emirates, with the chairman of the Phoenix Group Board being H.E Tareq Abdulraheem Al Hosani, who manages procurement for the armed forces of the UAE and the Police for Abu Dhabi.
Human Rights Watch details how “UAE authorities arbitrarily targeted Pakistani Shia residents by subjecting them to enforced disappearance, incommunicado detention, and eventually groundless deportations.” Furthermore, “in late June, UAE authorities reportedly arrested hundreds of African migrant workers from Cameroon, Nigeria, and Uganda, arbitrarily detained them for weeks, and illegally deported them en masse without allowing them to challenge their deportations.”
These abuses are even more common “in cases purportedly related to state security.” Furthermore, the UAE military continues to provide support for Yemeni forces committing abuses.
M2’s actual products seem extraordinarily high-risk, offering unsustainable rates on its ‘Earn’ product, 11.5% APY on USDT, 10.5% APY on Bitcoin and Ethereum, and a variety of other unsustainable rates. The terms of service for this product detail how it will take your coins and then use them for “mining, staking, liquid staking, borrowing and lending, proprietary trading, and decentralized finance.”
If things go wrong, be forewarned that these things “could result in financial losses for the Earn User.”
Outside of irresponsible Earn products, M2 also ensures that it’s a fully modern exchange by offering the nearly obligatory exchange token in MMX. The MMX tokens offer “Privledged [sic] access to new coin listings” and promises that “10% of M2 earnings” will be paid out to MMX investors quarterly. It’s not clear if those earnings are revenue or profits.
Despite O’Leary’s claims that M2 is on the verge of taking half of Binance’s accounts, it’s currently a very small exchange, with the reported 24-hour volume on its BTC/USDT pair at about four cents. This is about 0.0000000018% of the $2.1 billion in 24-hour volume on that pair reported by Binance.
Protos has reached out to O’Leary through his O’Leary Ventures website to determine if he’s a paid spokesperson for M2 or Phoenix Group. Protos has also reached out to M2 to determine whether it’s notified the Bahamian Securities Commission about its new licensure in Abu Dhabi.