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Crypto lender Genesis, felled by bank run, eyes quick bankruptcy

Jan. 20, 2023 Updated Fri., Jan. 20, 2023 at 4:44 p.m.

Reverberations from the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried's empire continue to spread through financial markets, threatening the future of crypto lenders like Genesis,  BlockFi Inc. and Voyager Digital.   (Gabby Jones/Bloomberg)
Reverberations from the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried's empire continue to spread through financial markets, threatening the future of crypto lenders like Genesis,  BlockFi Inc. and Voyager Digital.  (Gabby Jones/Bloomberg)
By Jeremy Hill and Steven Church Bloomberg

Crypto lender Genesis is aiming for a relatively quick exit from bankruptcy court after collapsing under the force of a prolonged sell-off in digital assets.

The company, backed by Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York late Thursday. It entered court protection with a restructuring plan already drawn up, with hopes to implement it no later than May 19, bankruptcy filings show.

Genesis will try to sell itself and distribute the proceeds to creditors, according to a statement. If a sale isn’t viable, creditors would receive stock in the restructured company. That plan isn’t final and requires approval from a federal judge, as well as input from any creditors getting hurt along the way. These include Gemini Trust, the crypto firm run by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who have been pushing Silbert to make good on $900 million of its customers’ funds that have been trapped since Genesis ran into trouble in November.

If successful, the four-month restructuring would amount to a much faster process than has been seen for other collapsed crypto lenders like Voyager Digital and Celsius Network. Genesis is seeking bids for all of its assets no later than April 14, the court papers show.

Creditors could also wind up collecting money from DCG. Genesis has hired a former federal prosecutor to investigate an $850 million loan the company made to DCG entities, Genesis board member Paul Aronzon said in a court filing. Under the company’s reorganization proposal, any money collected from lawsuits filed by Genesis would help repay creditors, Aronzon said.

DCG has been under financial pressure in the wake of hedge fund Three Arrows Capital’s sudden collapse last year. Months later, FTX – where Genesis held some of its funds – began imploding, and Genesis fell prey to a wave of loan redemption requests.

“As the FTX Entities began to experience their collapse, the company received calls on its loans amounting to approximately $827 million,” Derar Islim, interim chief executive officer of Genesis, said in court papers. The quasi bank run “was outsize and severely impacted the Company’s available liquidity,” he said.

Genesis’s lending unit suspended withdrawals in November, soon after FTX went bankrupt. Redemptions and loan originations at Genesis’s lending operation remain suspended, according to the statement.

The bankruptcy filing doesn’t include Genesis Global Trading and other units involved in its derivatives, spot trading and custody businesses. The units in Chapter 11 had more than $5 billion of liabilities – including intercompany balances – as of Nov. 30, according to court papers.

Genesis will have to negotiate with its creditors as it looks to restructure, including the Winklevoss’ Gemini Trust. Babel Finance, listed as the third-biggest named Genesis creditor, holds a $150 million claim.

Silbert is locked in an escalating battle with Gemini’s Cameron Winklevoss, whose customers lost access to funds placed with Genesis. Winklevoss said in a tweet after the bankruptcy filing that “unless Barry and DCG come to their senses and make a fair offer to creditors, we will be filing a lawsuit against Barry and DCG imminently.” The threat follows Winklevoss’s accusations earlier this month that Silbert repeatedly misrepresented Genesis’s financial position, and his calls for Silbert to be removed as CEO.

DCG has called Winklevoss’s statements publicity stunts and said accusations of wrongdoing are baseless. “DCG will continue to engage in constructive negotiations with Genesis and its creditors with the goal of arriving at a solution that works for all parties,” the company said in an emailed statement Friday.

The case is Genesis Global Holdco LLC, 23-10063, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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