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“Unless they allow crypto crime, all the innovation in crime is going to go overseas, and we’ll fall behind in crime!”— Doctor Orrery
Binance: This is fine
Your actual money has been locked in Binance US since late March: [Binance.US, archive]
“Due to recent developments in the banking industry, Binance.US is transitioning to new banking and payment service providers over the next several weeks. Some USD deposit services will be temporarily impacted during the transition. Apple Pay and Google Pay deposits are temporarily unavailable. Wire deposits and withdrawals are temporarily unavailable. For <5% of customers, Debit Card deposits are temporarily unavailable. We are working to restore all services as soon as possible.”
BUSD trading pairs on Binance US are also suspended, and fiat withdrawals for institutional clients are cut off as well. [Twitter]
Catherine Coley has shown up alive and well! Coley was the CEO of Binance US until April 2021, when she abruptly left the company. Coley hasn’t said a word to the press or social media since — to the point where crypto people wondered what had happened to her. In the wake of the CFTC suit against Binance, Coley has finally surfaced. She’s hired Sullivan & Cromwell partner James McDonald, a former director of enforcement at the CFTC, for the suit. Coley appears to have started working with McDonald as early as January 2022. [Reuters]
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is conducting a “targeted review” of Binance’s Australian operation. Oztures Trading misclassified about 500 Australian retail investors as wholesale operators and sold them derivatives that were only for sophisticated investors. [AFR]
“Crypto warning: AK-47s, crooks, and the exchange Aussies should avoid” — David was quoted by news.com.au on the CFTC charges against Binance. “Regulators should also kick the company out of the banking system, cryptocurrency expert David Gerard said.” This story came out exactly as David had hoped it would. (Written by the other guy who originally started Rocknerd. We’re all in the rock journalist to finance journalist pipeline.) [Daily Telegraph, archive]
Voyager’s Binance deal is on hold
Voyager Digital wanted to sell itself to Binance US. The plan included an exculpation clause — that Voyager, the Unsecured Creditors’ Committee, Binance, and any professionals were not “liable at any time for the violation of any applicable law, rule, or regulation governing the solicitation of acceptances or rejections of the Plan or such distributions made pursuant to the Plan.” They wanted this bankruptcy court to grant them broad criminal immunity.
The US government and various regulators objected, and the February 28 version of the plan explicitly carved government action out of the exculpation provision. But the exculpation crept back into the March 2 version of the plan. The government and the regulators objected again, leading to this appeal. This time they are asking that the provision be removed, or else that the whole deal be blocked — at which point Voyager can only go into liquidation.
Judge Jennifer Rearden concurs with the government that exculpation is meant to head off suits between stakeholders in the bankruptcy itself — it’s not there for courts to “prospectively immunize debtors and non-debtors from law enforcement and other actions undertaken by the Government.” As such, she considered the appeal plausible, so has granted the stay. That said, Judge Rearden is painfully aware that Voyager is a melting ice cube, so she wants the government brief by April 4 (today!) and the Voyager and UCC briefs by April 14.
We wonder just what snakes are lurking in the deal such that Voyager and Binance tried to sneak in such a weirdly broad exculpation after it was already knocked back once. [Order & opinion, PDF]
With less than an hour to go before Celsius’s exclusive right to propose a plan lapsed, Kirkland & Ellis filed the Celsius chapter 11 plan for the NovaWulf deal, which we summarized previously. On April 12, Celsius will file the disclosure statement, which the court has to approve before creditors can vote on the plan. The disclosure statement lists Celsius’ assets, liabilities, and business affairs. [Doc 2358, PDF; Plan summary, PDF]
Shoba Pillay, the examiner in the Celsius bankruptcy, has filed nicely hyperlinked PDFs of her interim and final examiner reports. [Interim report, PDF; final report, PDF]
Pillay’s work is done now. She’s been officially discharged. [Doc 2364, PDF]
Based on the jaw-dropping criminality in the examiner’s reports, the Celsius Unsecured Creditors’ Committee filed a suit on February 14 against past Celsius executives to recover as much money from them as possible. The UCC has now filed a revised complaint. The new filing includes a redline against the previous version of the complaint, starting at page 139 of the PDF — it mainly adds two extra claims of misappropriation. [Doc 2349, PDF]
Good news for casinos
Matt Damon says his crypto.com ad at the 2022 Super Bowl was just because his water nonprofit was short of cash. If only there was a way to do good except by doing a ton of bad! [Gizmodo]
BaFin has lifted a finger and kicked Crypto.com out of Germany. The Singapore exchange was licensed in Malta and wanted to use that license in Germany. But Germany also required that they get a permit to advertise the investment offer, which Crypto.com didn’t bother doing. [The Paypers]
The Bittrex crypto exchange is leaving the US market. The only reason they give is that “regulatory requirements are often unclear and enforced without appropriate discussion or input, resulting in an uneven competitive landscape.” [Bittrex, archive; The Block]
We suspect the regulations Bittrex has in mind are very clear, and they just couldn’t survive with a legal business model. Bittrex’s volume dropped below 1% of the US market in 2021 and didn’t recover. Last year, they paid $53 million to OFAC and FinCEN for sanctions violations. [Treasury, 2022]
FTX EU LTD (Cyprus) launched a new website for withdrawals. The exchange will be returning funds on account to customers, per Cyprus law. This does not cover all EU customers — just those who were dealing with this particular FTX entity. [PR Newswire; FTX EU]
Paxful, a peer-to-peer bitcoin trading platform, is suspending operations. Paxful claims “regulatory challenges for the industry”— but also that “we unfortunately have had some key staff departures.” Did they depart in a police van, maybe? [Paxful, archive]
Lost all your money in a dodgy crypto company? Why not trade your bankruptcy claims on a new exchange run by the guys who lost all your money! Brought to you by the founders of the defunct Three Arrows Capital and the troubled CoinFLEX, OPNX is currently only doing spot trading in cryptos but promises to bring trading in bankruptcy claims some time soon. None of the proprietors are in any way on the run and hiding out from regulators, you understand — but they’re all just doing business strictly from Dubai for now. Your lack of funds is safe. [CoinDesk]
The usual good news for bitcoin
The US government sold 9,861 BTC connected to Silk Road, the first darknet market, on March 14. It intends to sell another 41,490 BTC in four batches over the course of a year. Tether coincidentally printed 2 billion USDT the same day — though the government will only accept real money. [Court filing, PDF; Twitter]
A South Korean court has once again denied the prosecutor’s request to issue an arrest warrant for Terraform Labs co-founder Daniel Shin. This was the second attempt made by South Korean authorities to arrest Shin following the arrest of Do Kwon, Terraform’s other co-founder. [Cointelegraph]
The Seoul Southern District Prosecutor’s Office has confiscated 210 billion KRW ($160 million) in assets — primarily real estate — from eight people connected to Terraform Labs, including Shin and former Terraform vice president Kim Mo. [KBS, in Korean]
Justin Sun of Tron turns out not to be Grenada’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization — he was kicked out when the new administration came in June 2022. So for the past nine months, the “H. E.” in his Twitter name must just have stood for something other than “His Excellency.” After the local news story reporting this came out, Sun first told The Block that he was totally still the ambassador — then tweeted how his term was actually ending as of March 31, 2023, y’see. OK. [GBN; The Block; Twitter]