Ex-Ozy Exec Testifies to Falsifying Records, Impersonating YouTube Exec for Goldman Sachs Investment

By Madz Dizon

Jun 04, 2024 11:31 PM EDT

Ex-Ozy Exec Testifies to Falsifying Records, Impersonating YouTube Exec for Goldman Sachs Investment
The Goldman Sachs logo is seen at the New York Stock Exchange during morning trading on August 25, 2023 in New York City.
(Photo : Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Executive Samir Rao, who is testifying as part of a plea deal, alleged that he conspired with Ozy Media to pose as YouTube CEO Alex Piper during a February 2021 conference call to deceive Goldman Sachs into believing that the failing digital media firm was profitable. 

Ozy Founder Accused of Deception

Rao claimed that he followed the instructions of Carlos Watson, the founder and CEO of the now-defunct Ozy Media. 

According to CourtHouse News, Watson, who made an appearance in court on Monday (June 3) donning a navy-blue suit, is currently on trial in Brooklyn federal court. 

He stands accused of deceiving potential investors by providing false information about the company's revenue, profit earnings, and audience data in an attempt to secure funding.

As stated by Rao, the reality of Ozy's audience for its website, newsletters, and videos was far less impressive than they claimed. For years, he claimed that he and Watson faced immense challenges in keeping the company afloat. 

According to Rao, Ozy informed Goldman that it had generated $5.71 million in revenue from YouTube. However, the actual figure turned out to be "zero."

In the words of Rao, after consulting with YouTube, the two individuals concluded that they could influence Goldman during the call.

Based on emails and chat messages shown to jurors, Watson was seated across the room during the call and provided guidance to Rao on what to say. 

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Failed Plan Unravels, Rao and Watson in Trouble

Both quickly realized that their plan had failed in a disastrous manner, according to Rao. Goldman had contacted the real Alex Piper, who called Rao and requested an explanation.

Watson, who is facing charges of conspiracy and securities fraud, has entered a plea of not guilty and maintains his innocence. 

In his opening statements, Ronald Sullivan, the lawyer, described Rao as a dishonest co-founder who received a favorable agreement from prosecutors, Bloomberg reported.

Prosecutors also claimed that Watson and Rao misrepresented their revenue to Google Inc.

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