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Lawsuit accuses troubled crypto lender Celsius Network of fraud

Skylar Shaw

Jul 08, 2022 14:54


On Thursday, a former investment manager at Celsius Network filed a lawsuit against the cryptocurrency lender, alleging that it had frozen client funds and had rigged the price of its own cryptocurrency token using user contributions.

According to the lawsuit, Celsius engaged in "gross mishandling of client deposits" in order to enrich itself and deceived plaintiff KeyFi Inc, controlled by former manager Jason Stone, into delivering services worth millions of dollars while refusing to pay for them.

The complaint was filed in Manhattan's New York state court and demands both specific compensation and punitive damages; Celsius has not yet responded.

Stone's charges come after Celsius decided on June 12 to halt transfers and withdrawals for its 1.7 million clients due to "extreme" market circumstances.

Later, the Hoboken, New Jersey-based business recruited consultants to discuss a potential debt restructure that would include declaring bankruptcy.

While the cryptocurrency hedge fund went into liquidation late last month, the crypto lender Voyager Digital Ltd filed for bankruptcy protection this week.

Celsius guaranteed retail consumers disproportionate returns, up to 19% yearly.

However, Stone said that Celsius had trouble paying investors because it neglected to hedge its bets, leading to "severe" losses when the value of several currencies changed.

He also claimed that Celsius had a $100 million to $200 million hole in its records that it "could not completely explain or rectify" because certain deposits were recorded on a U.S. dollar basis even though clients were paid in bitcoin or other digital currencies.

The case filed on Thursday claims that Stone produced $838 million in profit for Celsius and KeyFi before expenses and overhead from August 2020 to March 2021 while mostly operating without a formal agreement, with KeyFi being entitled to 20% of net profit.

When it became apparent that the hedging difficulties "may be financially ruinous" for Celsius and harm KeyFi's image, Stone claims he ended the connection in March 2021. However, Stone claims that Celsius has refused to accept his resignation.

KeyFi Inc. v. Celsius Network Ltd. et al., New York State Supreme Court, New York County, is the name of the case.