According to investor and Shark Tank star Kevin O'Leary, unregulated crypto exchanges will continue to collapse after FTX, with many more "meltdowns" to come.
Unregulated exchanges are ones that don't follow similar operating procedures to conventional stock exchanges and brokerages, aren't registered with and governed by a securities commission, and aren't subject to routine auditing.
In an interview with Kitco anchor David Lin on Jan. 17, the former spokesperson and supporter of the now-defunct FTX exchange claimed that FTX was simply one of many "unregulated exchanges" that would eventually fall.
"If you're asking me if there's going to be another meltdown to zero? Absolutely," O'Leary said. "One hundred percent it'll happen, and it'll keep happening over, and over and over again."
After that, the Shark Tank star issued a strong warning to supposedly "unregulated" cryptocurrency exchanges:
"If you're not willing to be audited, [...] you don't have an audit, you don't want to be transparent, you don't want to disclose ownership, why should institutional capital stay? Of course, it's not going to."
Strong demands for more openness from crypto exchanges came from the community after the spectacular FTX collapse in November. Five centralized exchanges finished their proof-of-reserve audits in a matter of weeks, and several more declared plans to follow suit.
However, several authorities, including a senior official from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, urged investors to be "very wary" of the assertions being made and cautioned that proof-of-reserves don't accurately depict a company's financial status.
Some of the auditors, including Mazars, appear to have changed their minds about supporting crypto firms. The organization apparently stopped performing proof-of-reserve assessments for cryptocurrency companies in December and deleted its audit for top crypto exchange Binance.
Other auditing firms, including FTX's auditor Armanino, have reportedly discontinued working with crypto exchanges such as OKX and Gate.io.
O'Leary's Shark Tank co-host Mark Cuban told The Street earlier this month that crypto wash trading on centralized exchanges will be the source of the next crypto "implosion."
According to a December research by the National Bureau of Economic Research, wash trading accounts for up to 70% of volume on unregulated exchanges.
Despite the controversy, O'Leary claims he's increasing his crypto investments, particularly in Bitcoin (BTC).
."I have been going back into crypto markets lately. Any time Bitcoin drops below $17,000 I add to our positions there," he said. "Crypto is getting very interesting because we're finally starting to see the bearer of regulation coming into play and I think long-term that's a good thing."