Crypto Biz: Celsius, FTX feel investors’ wrath as lawsuits multiply

By akohad Feb18,2023


The stunning collapses of Celsius and FTX destroyed many lives — early adopters who had the foresight to understand the unique value propositions of Bitcoin (BTC) and crypto were left with practically nothing when both platforms halted withdrawals, shuttered their doors and eventually filed for bankruptcy. While there’s still hope that creditors will be made partially whole again, the road to recouping financial losses is expected to be long. While they’re waiting, creditors are banding together to sue these firms for various alleged infractions. 

This week’s Crypto Biz delves into recent lawsuits targeting Celsius co-founder Alex Mashinsky and several venture capital firms that backed FTX during previous investment rounds. We also survey the latest news surrounding the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and end on a positive note about a potential blockchain use case.

Celsius creditors committee proposes suing Mashinsky, other Celsius execs

Once the darling of yield-seeking crypto investors, bankrupt lending platform Celsius is accused of “fraud, recklessness, gross mismanagement and self-interested conduct” by former customers. In a complaint filed in a bankruptcy court on Feb. 14, attorneys representing Celsius’ creditors proposed to sue co-founder Alex Mashinsky and other former executives for such misdeeds. “Mr. Mashinsky, Mr. Leon, Mr. Goldstein, Mr. Beaudry, Ms. Urata-Thompson, and Mr. Treutler breached their fiduciary obligations to Celsius,” the lawyers wrote about Celsius’ executives. “Those parties were aware Celsius was promising its customer’s interest payments that it could not afford and did nothing to fix the problem.” It looks like Mashinsky’s problems are only just getting started.

Sequoia Capital, Paradigm among VCs facing ‘tricky’ FTX investor lawsuit

Customers of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX are turning their attention to the platform’s financiers and promoters to recoup some of the massive losses they’ve incurred. According to Bloomberg, FTX users have filed a class-action lawsuit against venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and private equity firms Thoma Bravo and Paradigm — all three companies were involved in FTX’s massive $900 million Series B round in July 2021. Meanwhile, a separate class-action lawsuit filed in California on Feb. 14 alleged that Silvergate Bank and its CEO Alan Lane were responsible for “aiding and abetting” Sam Bankman-Fried in carrying out his fraud. It looks like FTX’s venture capital and business backers are about to feel the blowback of the exchange’s failure.

SEC to target crypto firms operating as ‘qualified custodians’ — Report

The United States was always supposed to be a bedrock for innovation and first-mover advantage. In the case of crypto, however, regulators are coming down with an iron fist. In addition to stablecoins and staking protocols, the SEC is reportedly eyeing “qualified custodians” in its regulatory guidance and enforcement actions. According to Bloomberg, the SEC is working on a proposal that would make it difficult for crypto companies to serve as “qualified custodians” on behalf of clients. In practice, this may deter hedge funds and private equity funds from continuing to work alongside crypto custodians.

Siemens issues $64M digital bond on a public blockchain

Blockchain’s use cases may have extended to bond offerings after German engineering company Siemens issued a digital bond using distributed ledger technology. On Feb. 14, Siemens disclosed that it sold $60 million worth of digital bonds directly to investors, which included DekaBank, DZ Bank and Union Investment. The company said blockchain-based bonds have several advantages compared to traditional bond sales. “For instance, it makes paper-based global certificates and central clearing unnecessary,” Siemens said. “What’s more, the bond can be sold directly to investors without needing a bank to function as an intermediary.” It’s important to note that the bonds were still paid for using traditional methods because the digital euro is not yet available.

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