In a seismic event for the cryptocurrency industry, New York Attorney General Letitia James has launched a lawsuit against prominent players Gemini Trust, Genesis Global Capital, and Digital Currency Group. The action comes nearly a year after the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried's crypto empire, revealing a web of deception and nearly $1 billion in hidden losses.
The lawsuit alleges that Gemini, founded by the Winklevoss twins, misled investors about the substantial risks associated with a lending program it operated alongside Genesis. Under the Gemini Earn scheme, customers were promised an 8% interest return for lending their crypto assets to Genesis, presenting the initiative as a low-risk investment opportunity. However, Attorney General James contends that at least 29,000 New Yorkers, among a staggering 230,000 investors, suffered financial losses due to these misrepresentations.
The lawsuit further claims that Gemini was aware of the hazardous nature of Genesis' loans, which were heavily concentrated in Bankman-Fried's crypto trading business, Alameda Research. This damning revelation raises questions about the transparency and due diligence exercised by these industry giants.
Genesis, reeling from the FTX crisis, halted lending unit redemptions and eventually declared bankruptcy, leaving investors in the lurch. Former Genesis CEO Soichiro “Michael” Moro and Digital Currency Group CEO Barry Silbert also find themselves named in the lawsuit, marking a significant blow to their reputations.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had previously sued Genesis and Gemini for marketing unregistered securities through the Earn program, highlighting a history of non-compliance with financial regulations. This lawsuit underscores the urgent need for comprehensive and robust regulatory frameworks for the crypto industry, which has operated largely outside of traditional banking oversight for years.
In response to the lawsuit, Gemini has claimed to be a victim of "massive fraud," asserting that they were themselves deceived by Genesis. They argue that blaming a victim for being misled is unjust, signaling a contentious legal battle ahead.
While Genesis representatives maintain their innocence, they have committed to cooperating with all authorities. They insist that the company has not violated any laws and is focused on maximizing Chapter 11 creditor recoveries.
As this legal saga unfolds, it serves as a stark reminder of the pressing need for regulatory clarity in the cryptocurrency market. The fallout from Sam Bankman-Fried's empire collapse has shaken the industry to its core, leaving investors and regulators alike demanding greater accountability and transparency from crypto companies.