Binance.US’s $1.02 billion plan to purchase bankrupt crypto lender Voyager Digital is facing regulator opposition on two fronts, bankruptcy court filings from Thursday reveal.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the New York Department of Financial Services filed separate oppositions to the deal on the grounds that it may violate securities laws.
The SEC took issue with Voyager’s VGX token, as well as how Binance.US plans to repay Voyager’s former customers, alleging “the transactions in crypto assets necessary to effectuate the rebalancing, the redistribution of such assets to Account Holders, may violate the prohibition in Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933 against the unregistered offer, sale, or delivery after sale of securities.”
It's Voyager’s responsibility to prove to the SEC that the agreement doesn’t violate securities laws, the filing said.
NYDFS and New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, in their filings, allege Voyager was unlawfully serving customers in the state.
Voyager “onboarded New York customers and thus illegally operated a virtual currency business within the state without a license, in violation of New York laws and regulations,” the agency said.
NYDFS also took issue with the purported timeline for customer repayment, where New Yorkers would have to wait six months to get their assets back while Binance.US gains state approval.
Regulators seem to have honed their focus of late on the alleged wrongdoings of crypto companies, including an SEC probe into unregistered securities sales that pushed crypto exchange Kraken to halt its crypto staking operations last month and its alleged lawsuit against Paxos for allegedly violating investor protection laws with its sale of stablecoin Binance USD.
Paxos, however, is in “constructive discussions” with the SEC over the stablecoin, Reuters reported Wednesday.
The SEC filed a limited objection to the Binance.US-Voyager deal last month because it wasn’t sure Binance.US could afford it. The Texas State Securities Board and the Texas Department of Banking also filed a joint objection on the grounds that Voyager and Binance.US were “not in compliance with Texas law and are not authorized to conduct business in Texas.”
Binance.US’s $1.02 billion bid came in a second auction for Voyager’s assets. FTX US won an initial round in September with a $1.42 billion offer. That deal fell through because when FTX filed for bankruptcy protection in November. Binance.US was also among the September bidders.
Voyager declared bankruptcy in July after crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital defaulted on a $650 million loan from the company.
“We will work with relevant parties to provide any requested information, as Binance.US customer assets always remain on the platform, are held on a 1:1 basis and are fully reserved,” a Binance.US spokesperson told Banking Dive via email. “We look forward to bringing Voyager customers to Binance.US, and are pleased that 97% of Voyager customers have already voted to approve our plan.”
Voyager Digital did not return a request for comment Thursday.