What’s up with crypto exchange Gemini and its ties to FTX?
Genesis Trading and its parent company Digital Currency Group (DCG) owe over $900 million to Gemini Earn, as the contagion from FTX’s rapid collapse continues to spread. Gemini’s billionaire founders, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, have kept a relatively low profile during the fallout.
As early as June this year, Gemini Earn was suffering the effects of the crypto bear market. Gemini became one of several digital asset exchanges who had to lay off staff. In fact, the firm cut 10% of its workforce in June, or around 100 employees. Seven weeks later, a further 7% of staff were told they’d be let go.
Around the same time, the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a federal lawsuit against Gemini, accusing executives of market manipulation and lying to the regulator about the platform’s reliability.
In late August, the situation had not improved much. The brothers listed a luxury penthouse in New York City for sale, asking nearly $17 million.
Gemini Earn offered interest-bearing accounts that, oddly enough, seem similar to BlockFi Interest Accounts — they were found to be unregistered securities earlier this year. It also offered other interest-bearing crypto accounts by now-collapsed companies like Celsius and Voyager. Nevertheless, so far, no regulator has publicly announced an enforcement action against Gemini Earn.
Gemini might use lawyers to collect debts from FTX-indebted Genesis Trading
The Winklevoss brothers recently formed a committee of creditors to recover lost funds from Genesis Trading and its parent company, Barry Silbert’s DCG. Cameron Winklevoss said Gemini’s Creditor Council hired a law firm called Kirkland & Ellis to advocate for the creditor group.
Gemini froze redemptions on its loan platform after experiencing liquidity issues when Genesis Trading also paused withdrawals. The two companies are partners in the Gemini Earn product. Gemini said it was working to restore redemptions as soon as possible. It also denied that the suspension impacted any other Gemini products.
Genesis Trading has $2.8 billion in active loans; DCG owes it $1.7 billion. Earlier this year, Genesis Trading became one of several creditors to lose money when Three Arrows Capital went bankrupt.
Digital Currency Group injected $140 million in new equity funding into Genesis in a bid to help it recover from losing access to the $175 million it had deposited on FTX. Even with the cash injection, Genesis Trading is scrambling to explore options, including a possible bankruptcy.
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Meanwhile, the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan is investigating Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) and FTX. The former billionaire could face fraud charges. Although he’s gone on a media blitz in a bid to recover his reputation, SBF admitted that the company’s accounting systems “misplaced” approximately $8 billion.
Customers are desperately calling on Gemini to pay back Gemini Earn users. Some skeptics don’t seem to believe that Gemini kept all assets separate from company funds instead of commingling them, as FTX and Alameda did.
Gemini did score a minor win when Italy added it to a list of virtual asset operators authorized to operate in the country. However, such an approval — normally important to an expanding exchange — may not be enough to save its Gemini Earn product.
Genesis Trading may not pay back Gemini Earn the full $900 million. The Winklevoss brothers have not said much about it beyond some official statements about creditors committees and legal hires.
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