Carlos Watson, the CEO of the digital media company Ozy Media, denied wrongdoing on Friday as he faces fraud charges, saying “I am not now and never have been a ‘con man.’”
Watson said on Twitter that he has been a “hard-working entrepreneur” who helped build the company from scratch and he plans to “fight these charges with everything I have.”
“I have worked around the clock for 10 years to build this company and devoted my life savings to help get us through rough patches,” he tweeted. “This has been a life’s work 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 I’ve been singled out? OZY is a real and valuable company that was built through an enormous amount of hard work and sacrifice,” he continued.
Watson was charged with conspiring to commit securities fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud after another top Ozy Media executive, Samir Rao, pleaded guilty earlier this week to charges of fraud and identity theft in a Brooklyn, N.Y., federal court.
Watson pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Prosecutors allege that he made “material misrepresentations and omissions” about the company as part of a scheme to defraud investors, lenders and potential investors, acquirers and lenders.
The company and Watson have been under federal investigation since The New York Times reported in 2021 that Rao impersonated a top YouTube official in a conference call with possible investors from Goldman Sachs and praised Ozy Media’s success.
Watson has said he was not involved with the plan at all.