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Celsius becomes third major crypto firm in two weeks to file for bankruptcy

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read

Crypto lender Celsius Network has initiated bankruptcy proceedings, the company said Wednesday night, marking the third high-profile crypto firm to do so in the last two weeks.

The New Jersey-based firm filed bankruptcy under Chapter 11 with the Southern District of New York, stating it has $167 million in assets on hand to fund operations during restructuring.

“I am confident that when we look back at the history of Celsius, we will see this as a defining moment,” Alex Mashinsky, Celsius' co-founder and CEO, said in a release.

After the collapse of Terra’s algorithmic stablecoin UST, crypto lending and brokerage firms have faced solvency issues with common failings coming from directly investing in Terra coins (LUNA, UST), lending money to firms who did - such as now bankrupt hedge fund Three Arrows Capital - or simply losing out from other risky positions involving leverage.

The firm joins Three Arrows Capital as well as another lender, Voyager Digital, in the list of major crypto firms filing for bankruptcy protection.

Celsius, whose mantra has been “Unbank Yourself,” offered both retail and institutional customers high-yield interest savings accounts. The firm earned yield for customers by lending its assets out to hedge funds or depositing them in higher risk decentralized finance trades that relied on additional leverage.

Celsius logo and representation of cryptocurrencies are seen in this illustration taken, July 7, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustrations
Celsius logo and representation of cryptocurrencies are seen in this illustration taken, July 7, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustrations

On June 12, Celsius showed the first signs stress, freezing customer accounts on its platform, which in some cases caused customers to lose their funds by preventing them from paying down crypto loans on the platform as market conditions collapsed.

Between freezing customers' accounts and filing for bankruptcy, the firm has remained largely silent.

Celsius hired restructuring lawyers, laid off 150 employees, and unwound a number of decentralized finance positions over the last month, paying down at least $900 million in debt according to Yahoo Finance’s tally.

On a consolidated basis, the firm stated in the petition it holds between $1 and $10 billion assets and matching liabilities on its balance sheet, and has more than 100,000 customers who, in a bankruptcy scenario, are now deemed unsecured creditors.

Celsius' largest unsecured creditor according to the petition is one Pharos USD FUND, which it owes $81 million. Notably, it also owes $12.7 million to trading firm Alameda Research.

Based on a recent report by blockchain analytics firm Arkham Intelligence, Celsius entrusted $530 million in corporate funds to crypto asset manager KeyFi so it could engage in higher risk decentralized finance trading strategies.

KeyFi founder Jason Stone, who recently filed a lawsuit against Celsius, said the transaction yielded $350 million in losses for the company. In the complaint, legal representatives for Stone accused Celsius of being a “fraud” and “Ponzi scheme.”

The celsius token (CEL) has fallen more than 32% following its bankruptcy announcement to trade at 46 cents per coin. At the start of May, it changed hands above $2 per coin.

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