Centennial bankruptcy judge ruling says account holders don’t own their accounts


More than half a million people who deposited money into Celsius’ collapsing cryptocurrency lending network have suffered a major blow to their hopes of getting their money back, as the judge in the company’s bankruptcy case decided the money belonged to Celsius and not to the depositors.

The judge, Martin Glenn, found that Celsius’s terms of use — lengthy contracts published by many websites but few consumers read — meant that “crypto assets became the property of Celsius.”

The ruling underscores the wild west nature of the unregulated crypto industry. On Thursday, New York Attorney General Letitia James moved to impose some sort of injunction, or at least legal repercussions, on Celsius founder Alex Mashinsky, whom she accused in a lawsuit of defrauding hundreds of thousands of consumers.

Crypto fortunes have plummeted in recent months since Celsius became the first major crypto platform imploding inwardly, collapsing inwards Last year, its July bankruptcy froze at least $4.2 billion for 600,000 Americans, according to court papers. FTX breakdown Four months later.

And while Glenn’s ruling wouldn’t affect FTX, whose terms of use were different, some analysts saw the ruling as extending beyond percentage points.

“There are many other platforms that have similar terms of use to Celsius,” said Aaron Kaplan, an attorney at finance-focused firm Gusrae Kaplan Nusbaum and co-founder of his own crypto firm. He said clients need to “understand the risks they are taking when depositing their assets on insufficiently regulated platforms”.

Meanwhile, James’ lawsuit alleged that Machinsky used “false and misleading allegations to solicit.” [customers] to deposit billions of dollars in digital assets.” The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Mashinsky and wants to bar him from a range of financial and other businesses in New York.

Celsius spokesperson Luke Wolf said Mashinsky is no longer involved in running the company. Machinsky did not respond to a message seeking comment.

For years, Celsius has promised exorbitant interest rates in the order of 20 percent to people in a kind of fictional version of a real-world bank, prompting many who had no interest in cryptocurrency to enter the market.

The lawsuit says that Mashinsky was the cause. “In hundreds of interviews, blog posts, and live broadcasts,” she says, “Maczynski promoted Celsius as a safe alternative to banks while concealing that Celsius was in fact engaging in risky investment strategies.”

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Mashinsky was known for regular “Ask Mashinsky Anything” questions and answers online and T-shirts with messages like “Banks are not your friends”. Crowds of fans on YouTube and Twitter hailed the “machine” cult, for which it was nicknamed. If FTX’s Sam Bankman Fried The public face of cryptocurrency has been in the halls of Washington, and Mashinsky has often been its most visible symbol to ordinary investors.

The suit painted an image of someone bent on promoting themselves as a champion of the unbanked working class when in fact much of their money was being used to fund risky investments.

Describing himself and his company as the Robin Hoods of the modern age, Machinsky boasted that Celsius delivers returns … to people who would never be able to do it themselves, [and] “We take it from the rich,” the suit said. “These promises are false.”

However, according to the bankruptcy court, there may be a limit to what the legal system can do when crypto companies are savvy enough to protect themselves. Investors and a number of countries that have joined their movement say the language has been at least “vague” in the rights it has been granted by C. But Glenn disagreed.

Attorneys for Celsius, Joshua Susberg and Patrick J. Nash Jr. and attorneys for the creditors, Gregory Pesci and Andrea Amolek, did not respond to requests for comment.

The bankruptcy ruling focused specifically on whether Celsius as part of a restructuring could sell $18 million in so-called Stablecoins, a type of virtual currency, to help perpetuate. But its repercussions are much greater than that. By ruling that the money in the accounts was not truly owned by the 600,000 account holders, the court essentially said they were now just unsecured creditors. “There simply won’t be enough value available to pay it off,” Glenn wrote.

The effects could even exceed that of other crypto platforms with language that is strict in its fine print – presenting problems for customers in the event of a breakdown.

“This raises another question about how difficult it is to transact in the wild west of crypto,” said Brian Marks, a professor of economics and business law at the University of New Haven’s Pompe School of Business who has studied the Celsius case. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see other companies revisit their terms and conditions afterward.”

The links between cryptocurrency companies are vast, and the failures of one can spill over into another, even months later. On Thursday, crypto lender Genesis He said It will lay off 30 percent of its staff, in part because of a loan to Alameda Research sister company FTX.

The percent creditors are affected by the FTX bankruptcy as well. The lawsuit revealed in New York, that Mashinsky’s former firm had loaned $1 billion to Alameda which it secured with FTT token FTT.

“FTT has since fallen in value by about 95%, leaving Celsius holding nearly worthless collateral,” the company said.

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