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Bankrupt crypto lender Genesis optimistic it can resolve creditor disputes

By Dietrich Knauth

NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Reuters) - A lawyer for the bankrupt Genesis Global Capital said on Monday that the cryptocurrency lender had some confidence it could resolve its disputes with creditors this week, with a goal of emerging from Chapter 11 by late May.

Sean O'Neal, the lawyer, spoke at a hearing in Manhattan bankruptcy court to consider "first-day" motions for Genesis Global Capital, the crypto lending business owned by Barry Silbert's venture capital firm Digital Currency Group.

Genesis and two lending units filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors on Jan. 19, two months after it froze customer withdrawals in the wake of the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX exchange.

The filing followed the bankruptcies since last July of crypto lenders BlockFi, Celsius Network and Voyager Digital.

O'Neal said Genesis had "some measure of confidence" it would resolve its disputes with creditors by the end of this week, following about two months of negotiations, but would ask for a mediator if it became necessary.

"Sitting here right now, I don't think we're going to need a mediator," he said. "I'm very much an optimist."

Brian Rosen, a lawyer for creditors holding $1.5 billion of claims, said "we are getting closer" to an accord. "Only time will tell," he said.

Genesis has said it plans to sell various assets at auction, and exit bankruptcy by May 19.

The company listed just over $5 billion of assets and liabilities in its bankruptcy filing, and said it owed more than 100,000 creditors at least $3.4 billion. It estimated it has nearly $1.7 billion of claims against DCG, the parent.

DCG, and Genesis' derivatives and spot trading, custody and brokerage businesses, are not part of the bankruptcy.

Genesis' problems have put Silbert into conflict with identical twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the former U.S. Olympic rowers who run the crypto exchange Gemini, which is owed $765.9 million by Genesis and is its largest creditor.

On Jan. 12, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Genesis and Gemini with illegally selling unregistered securities through their Gemini Earn lending product.

The Winklevosses have said Genesis should repay the $900 million of assets owed to about 340,000 Earn investors.

Cameron Winklevoss has also called for Silbert's removal as DCG chief, and threatened litigation against DCG if Genesis' bankruptcy did not result in " a fair offer to creditors."

Chris Marcus, a lawyer for Gemini and some other creditors, said in court that "there is some work to do" to get everyone on the same page, but that he was "cautiously optimistic" the disputes could be resolved without a mediator.

DCG's portfolio also includes the crypto asset manager Grayscale and news service CoinDesk.

Genesis' borrowers also include hedge fund Three Arrows Capital and Alameda Research, a trading firm affiliated with FTX, a person familiar with the matter said last week.

Three Arrows and Alameda are also in bankruptcy proceedings. (Reporting by Dietrich Knauth in New York, editing by Deepa Babington)