Bankrupt crypto lender Genesis optimistic it can resolve creditor disputes

FILE PHOTO: Representations of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin, Ripple, Litecoin are placed on PC motherboard in this illustration taken, June 29, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A lawyer for the bankrupt Genesis Global Capital said on Monday that the cryptocurrency lender had some confidence it could resolve its disputes with creditors this week, with a goal of emerging from Chapter 11 by late May.

Sean O'Neal, the lawyer, spoke at an initial hearing in Manhattan bankruptcy court for Genesis Global Capital, the crypto lending business owned by Barry Silbert's venture capital firm Digital Currency Group.

Genesis and two lending units filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors on Jan. 19, two months after it froze customer withdrawals in the wake of the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX exchange.

The filing followed the bankruptcies since last July of crypto lenders Celsius Network, Voyager Digital and BlockFi.

O'Neal said Genesis had "some measure of confidence" it would resolve its disputes with creditors this week, following about two months of negotiations, and would seek mediation if necessary.

"Sitting here right now, I don't think we're going to need a mediator," he said. "I'm very much an optimist."

Brian Rosen, a lawyer for creditors holding $1.5 billion of claims, said "we are getting closer" to an accord.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane granted a series of "first-day" motions by Genesis, including to pay employees and critical vendors, which are common in bankruptcy cases.

Citing customers' privacy interests, Lane also said Genesis did not have to reveal customer names in its lists of creditors, and suggested it warn about possible phishing scams if their names were made public later.

Genesis has said it plans to sell various assets at auction, and exit bankruptcy by May 19.

The company reported just over $5 billion of assets and liabilities, and has said it owed more than 100,000 creditors at least $3.4 billion. It estimated it has nearly $1.7 billion of claims against its parent.

Genesis' bankruptcy does not include DCG, or Genesis' derivatives and spot trading, custody and brokerage businesses. DCG also controls the asset manager Grayscale and news service CoinDesk.

Genesis' problems have put Silbert into conflict with identical twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the former U.S. Olympic rowers who run the crypto exchange Gemini, which is owed $765.9 million by Genesis and is its largest creditor.

On Jan. 12, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Genesis and Gemini with illegally selling unregistered securities through their Gemini Earn lending product.

The Winklevosses have said Genesis should repay the $900 million of assets owed to about 340,000 Earn investors, and Cameron Winklevoss has called for Silbert's removal.

Chris Marcus, a lawyer for Gemini and some other creditors, told Lane that "there is some work to do" to get everyone on the same page, but that he was "cautiously optimistic" the disputes could be resolved without a mediator.

Genesis' borrowers also include hedge fund Three Arrows Capital and Alameda Research, a trading firm affiliated with FTX, a person familiar with the matter said last week.

Three Arrows and Alameda are also in bankruptcy proceedings.

(Reporting by Dietrich Knauth in New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Stephen Coates)

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