Troubled Crypto Lender Celsius Files for Bankruptcy

07/14/2022By: L, Laura

Crypto lender Celsius has started filing for bankruptcy protection. The embattled exchange has finally turned Chapter 11 rumors into reality after a month of turmoil with constant speculation and rumors.

 

In Brief

  • Crypto lending platformCelsius has started Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Previously, CNBC reported the company’s lawyers were notifying U.S. state regulators of theplans, according to a source, who asked not to be named as the proceedings were private.
  • Celsius made headlines a month ago after freezing customer accountsand pausing all withdrawals, blaming “extreme market conditions” and joined a list of other high-profile cryptocurrency bankruptcies.

 

Crypto company Celsius has started the process of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after a month of turmoil.

 

In a Wednesday statement, Celsius said it would look to stabilize its business by restructuring in a way “that maximizes value for all stakeholders.” Celsius said it has $167 million in cash on hand to support operations in the meantime.

 

Earlier, CNBC reported the company’s lawyers were notifying individual U.S. state regulators as of Wednesday evening, according to a source, who asked not to be named because the proceedings were private.

 

“This is the right decision for our community and company,” Alex Mashinsky, co-founder and CEO of Celsius said in a statement. “I am confident that when we look back at the history of Celsius, we will see this as a defining moment, where acting with resolve and confidence served the community and strengthened the future of the company.”

 

The Hoboken, New Jersey-based company made headlines a month ago after freezing customer accounts, blaming “extreme market conditions.”

 

Wednesday’s news marks the latest high-profile crypto bankruptcy as prices plummet.

 

Voyager filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, after suffering losses due to exposure to now defunct hedge fund Three Arrows Capital. A judge in New York bankruptcy court froze Three Arrows Capital’s remaining assets this week. The fund is now in the process of liquidation proceedings.

 

“Unfortunately, this was expected. It was anticipated. It does not, however, stop our investigations. We will continue investigating the company and working to protect its clients, even through its insolvency,” Joseph Rotunda, director of enforcement at the Texas State Securities Board, said of the Celsius bankruptcy filing.

 

Celsius did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

 

The company has more than 100,000 creditors, which could include both customers and lending counterparties, according to the bankruptcy document. Its largest unsecured claim is an $81 million from Caymans Island-based Pharos Fund. The filing also lists billionaire FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s trading firm, Alameda Research, as a creditor with a $12 million unsecured loan.

 

Celsius was one of the largest players in the crypto lending space with more than $8 billion in loans to clients, and almost $12 billion in assets under management as of May. Celsius said it had 1.7 million customers as of June and was competing with its interest-bearing accounts and yields as high as 17%.

 

The firm would lend customers’ crypto out to counterparties willing to pay a sky-high interest rates to borrow it. Celsius would then split some of that revenue with users. But the structure came crashing down amid a liquidity crunch in the industry.

 

The company was sued last week by a former investment manager who alleged Celsius failed to hedge risk, artificially inflated the price of its own digital coin, and engaged in activities that amounted to fraud.

 

Six state regulators have already launched investigations into Celsius. Vermont became the latest to do so earlier on Wednesday. The state’s Department of Financial Regulation said Celsius “deployed customer assets in a variety of risky and illiquid investments, trading, and lending activities.”

 

“Celsius customers did not receive critical disclosures about its financial condition, investing activities, risk factors, and ability to repay its obligations to depositors and other creditors,” the Vermont regulator said in a statement. “The company’s assets and investments are probably inadequate to cover its outstanding obligations.”

 

Adam Levitin, Georgetown law professor and principal at Gordian Crypto Advisors, said Celsius customers may have to wait years to see their money again, and may only get pennies on the dollar. Customers who took part in Celsius’s high-yield deposit scheme may be seen as unsecured creditors in the eyes of the courts.

 

“The treatment here seems to be that the customer’s crypto is actually the company’s property, and as an unsecured creditor, you don’t get your bitcoins back,” Levitin told CNBC, adding that he doesn’t think Celsius is the last crypto bankruptcies in line. “The tide is still going out, we’re just waiting to see how far it goes.”

 

Related Reading:

What Happens If Crypto Exchanges Such as Celsius or Coinbase Goes Bankrupt?

Behind Voyager Failure: How Crypto Broker Went Bankrupt Like a Bank?

Celsius Recovers $418M ‘stETH’ Stack from Aave Loan

Crypto Lender Celsius Hires New Lawyers to Oversee Restructuring