Ozy Media CEO Carlos Watson said he was ‘deeply disappointed’ at his arrest and indictment for securities fraud, saying he was ‘not now and never was a crook’ .
In a series of tweets On Friday night, Watson held firm, defending his work, vowing to fight the charges “with everything I have” and adding, “I’m not saying I haven’t made mistakes – I have. . But it’s fair to ask why was I chosen?
Watson was charged Thursday morning with conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud. He also faces charges of aggravated identity theft for his role in impersonating several media company executives in emails with Ozy’s lenders and potential investors as part of the schemes. of fraud.
“I am deeply disappointed with the government’s actions yesterday. I am not now and never have been a ‘scammer,'” Watson wrote on Twitter. “I am and have been a hard working entrepreneur who helped build a special business from the ground up . I worked around the clock for 10 years to build this business and dedicated my life savings to help us through the tough times. It has been the work of a lifetime and I am proud of what I, my family and my team have been able to accomplish.
“I’m not saying I haven’t made mistakes – I have. But it’s fair to ask, why was I chosen? OZY is a real and valuable company that has been built through an enormous amount of hard work and sacrifice,” he tweeted. “I will fight these charges with all I have, and I look forward to my day in court. In the meantime, thank you to my family, friends and all of OZY’s readers, viewers and listeners for the words and messages of encouragement.
During Watson’s arrest, United States Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement: “As alleged, Carlos Watson is a con artist whose business strategy was based on outright deception and fraud. – he ran Ozy like a criminal organization rather than a reputable media company.”
Watson pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Watson’s Ozy Media collapsed in 2021 after The New York Times published an expose that accused the company of inflating its online traffic and video viewership and revealed that COO Samir Rao impersonated a Google executive during a fundraising call with Goldman Sachs, prompting an FBI investigation. Rao pleaded guilty to fraud charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
If convicted, Watson faces a minimum sentence of two years in prison and a maximum sentence of 37 years.