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Babel lost over $280M trading with customer funds; wants to raise up to $300M

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Babel lost over $280M trading with customer funds; wants to raise up to $300M

Babel lost over $280M trading with customer funds; wants to raise up to $300M Monica Noronha · 6 hours ago · 2 min read

Babel’s restructuring proposal showed the proprietary trading team failed to hedge risks and operated without supervision or a trading cap.

2 min read

Updated: July 29, 2022 at 3:35 pm

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Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate

Embattled crypto lender Babel Finance lost over $280 million while trading with customer funds, The Block reported July 29, citing the firm’s restructuring proposal deck.

The report said that Babel Finance lost around 8,000 Bitcoin (BTC) and 56,000 Ethereum (ETH) in June when it faced forced liquidation of its positions due to the market downturn.

The deck read:

“In that volatile week of June when BTC fell precipitously from 30k to 20k, unhedged positions in [proprietary trading] accounts chalked up significant losses, directly leading to forced liquidation of multiple Trading Accounts and wiped out ~8,000 BTC and ~56,000 ETH.”

Owing to these losses, Babel’s lending and trading departments could not meet margin calls from counterparties, the report said. The firm’s woes can be attributed to the Proprietary Trading team’s failure, the deck said.

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The deck further revealed that Babel Finance’s proprietary trading team had free reign and failed to hedge risk. The team handled multiple trading accounts that were not controlled or monitored by the firm’s trading department, the deck showed. Additionally, the proprietary trading team had no trading mandates or safeguards against risks and did not report any profit or loss.

The proprietary trading team also operated in the dark, such that their buy and sell orders were “not supported by any term sheets and thus were not recorded in [the] system,” as per the deck. Moreover, there was no trading cap for the team and Babel’s wallet management team “released uncapped amount of funds” to the trading accounts controlled by the team, the report said.

A Babel Finance spokesperson told The Block that the firm is —

“working closely with clients, investors and other stakeholders and external advisors during this very difficult time in the industry as we believe that is the best path for a full recovery and value maximization for all the parties.”

Babel Finance has been accused of inappropriately using user funds before. In October 2020, leaked recordings suggested that Babel leveraged customer funds to boost a long position on Bitcoin and was at risk of default during the Black Thursday market crash in March of the year.

At the time, Tether had reportedly rescued the lender by extending its margin call deadlines by a month.

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Babel’s plan of action

Babel aims to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and equity investments as part of its plan to save itself.

According to the deck, the lender wants to convert $150 million of its debt from the biggest creditors to convertible bonds. Babel is also looking to raise $250 to $300 million in convertible bonds and secure a revolving credit line of $200 million from creditors, the report said. This means that if the plan is executed, Babel’s biggest creditors will turn into shareholders.

Babel, which halted the withdrawal of customer funds last month, raised $80 million in a Series B funding round in late May, days before its financial troubles started. At the time, the firm was valued at $2 billion. Babel also raised $40 million in May 2021.

Babel Finance is backed by marquee investors, including Circle Ventures, the venture capital arm of USDCoin issuer Circle, Sequoia Capital China, Tiger Global Management, and Dragonfly Capital, among others.

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Bankruptcy

Zipmex enables up to $153 worth of ETH withdrawals

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Zipmex enables up to $153 worth of ETH withdrawals

Zipmex enables up to $153 worth of ETH withdrawals Monika Ghosh · 4 hours ago · 2 min read

The lender, which returned all SOL, XRP and ADA tokens to users over the past week, will allow withdrawal of up to 0.0045 BTC from Aug. 16.

2 min read

Updated: August 11, 2022 at 4:53 pm

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Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate

Zipmex, the lender that had halted customer withdrawals on July 20, is allowing customers to access and withdraw up to 0.08 Ethereum (ETH) tokens, worth around $153 at the time of writing, starting Aug. 11

The firm will transfer the ETH tokens from the users’ Z wallets, used to earn interest and bonus, to the Trade wallets, used for trading and withdrawing. The customers would then be able to withdraw the Ethereum tokens to their private wallets.

All users with less than 0.08 ETH in their Z wallets will receive their assets in full in the Trade Wallets. However, those with over 0.08 ETH will have to wait for further updates.

The firm will also enable users to withdraw 0.0045 Bitcoins (BTC), worth about $111 at the time of writing, from Aug. 16, according to the official statement. The tokens will similarly be transferred from the Z wallets to the Trade wallets.

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According to Zipmex, these transfers will allow most of its users to receive their assets in full in regard to five tokens — Bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as Solana (SOL), Ripple (XRP), and Cardano (ADA), which were fully returned to customers over the last week.

However, the lender added that the reinstatement of these withdrawals is just one step towards the larger goal of returning all customer assets.

In its statement, Zipmex said:

“We remain committed to complete transfers of all customers’ assets in a gradual manner and to accelerating all actions to resume the full service of Z Wallet.”

The firm added that it remains committed to building its native ZMT token, which received an additional investment from an existing backer. Zipmex is also trying to resume the functioning of its Z wallet, it added in the statement.

Thailand unfazed by crypto credit crisis

When Zipmex abruptly halted withdrawals last month, Thailand’s crypto and securities watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asked the firm to offer more clarifications. Zipmex operates across Southeast Asia and is registered with the Thailand SEC.

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The SEC later launched a public investigation to assess the impact of Zipmex’s withdrawal freeze. The lender then filed for a moratorium in Singapore to protect itself against legal action from creditors.

But despite the launched inquiry into Zipmex, the SEC is seemingly not worried as it approved four more crypto licenses last week. This included crypto broker Krungthai XSpring, exchange T-BOX Thailand, crypto advisor, and fund managers Coindee and Leif Capital Asset Management.

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Bankruptcy

Ripple shows interest in acquiring Celsius

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Ripple shows interest in acquiring Celsius

Ripple shows interest in acquiring Celsius Oluwapelumi Adejumo · 3 hours ago · 1 min read

A Ripple spokesperson reportedly said the firm was interested in looking for M&A opportunities to scale its business.

1 min read

Updated: August 10, 2022 at 9:12 pm

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Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate

Ripple Labs could be interested in buying the assets of embattled crypto lender Celsius Network, Reuters reported Aug. 10.

A Ripple spokesperson reportedly said the firm was interested in looking for M&A opportunities to scale its business. However, the San Fransico-based company refused to confirm if it would purchase Celsius assets outright.

“We are interested in learning about Celsius and its assets and whether any could be relevant to our business.”

Reuters also reported that Ripple was represented in the Celsius bankruptcy proceedings.

Meanwhile, Ripple is one of the most valuable firms in the crypto space. The firm was valued at $15 billion in January. The firm also revealed that the net purchases of its XRP token were over $400 million during the second quarter.

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Ripple is currently under a legal battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over whether the sales of its token qualify as a security offering.

Ripple is not the first firm to show interest in Celsius. Reports emerged that FTX walked out on a deal to acquire the crypto lender because of a $2 billion hole in its finances.

Celsius was one of the crypto firms affected by the record crash of the crypto market during the second quarter. The lender filed for bankruptcy on July 14 after halting withdrawals on June 12.

Since then, the firm has faced increased scrutiny from several state regulators in the United States. Its CEO Alex Mashinsky was recently accused of publicly giving misleading statements.

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Bankruptcy

German Crypto Exchange Nuri Files For Insolvency

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German Crypto Exchange Nuri Files For Insolvency

Cryptocurrency exchange Nuri has filed for insolvency, reportedly becoming Germany’s first fintech to take the step in a challenging year for startups in the industry. Customer access to the platform’s services and their funds will not be affected, the company assured.

Crypto Exchange Cites ‘Lasting Strain on Liquidity’ as Reason for Insolvency Filing

Berlin-based crypto exchange Nuri, formerly Bitwala, has filed for bankruptcy with a court in the German capital. The company made the move on Tuesday, Aug. 9, after unsuccessful attempts to secure a new financing round, the business newspaper Handelsblatt reported, noting that Nuri is the first German fintech to file for insolvency due to the latest crypto market slump.

In a statement, the exchange remarked that 2022 has been a challenging year for startups, especially those working with financial technologies, due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, political uncertainties and most recently, Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

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In addition, negative developments in the crypto space, including major sell-offs, the implosion of the Terra/Luna protocol, and the insolvency of Celsius and other crypto funds have led to a bear market, Nuri said, explaining:

We proceeded with the filling in due time to stay ahead of a lasting strain on the liquidity of our business.

Nuri Clients to Deposit and Withdraw Without Restrictions

The coin trading platform insisted that the filing will not affect its products and services, clients’ funds or investments. Customers will continue to have unimpeded access to their accounts and be able to deposit or withdraw all funds at any time, thanks to a partnership with Solarisbank. This applies to both cryptocurrency holdings and euro deposits.

The crypto exchange also emphasized it remains confident that the temporary insolvency proceedings offer a basis for developing and implementing a long-term restructuring plan. Nuri launched in 2015 and for a few years, until the rebranding in 2021, operated under the name Bitwala.

“This step became necessary to ensure the safest path forward for all our customers,” the company reiterated, and promised its team will do everything possible to ensure that its products and services continue to serve present and future customers.

Tags in this story

Bankruptcy, Bitwala, Crypto, crypto exchange, crypto market, Cryptocurrencies, Cryptocurrency, downturn, Exchange, filing, german, Germany, Insolvency, market, Nuri, Slump, trading platform

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Do you expect other German crypto companies to file for insolvency? Let us know in the comments section below.

Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

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