The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced a shocking disclosure that sent shockwaves throughout the crypto community. They have charged Alex Mashinsky and the founder and former CEO of Celsius Network Limited, Alex Mashinsky with violating federal securities laws.
Imagine that a player in a chess game makes illegal moves to tip the game his way. According to the SEC, Celsius and Mashinsky were allegedly doing this from 2018. They offered investors the Earn Interest Program – a crypto lending program – without registering their offer and sale of securities under federal law.
What’s so important about this, you may ask? This registration is like a security net that protects investors from fraud or malpractice. It is like a safety net for tightrope-walkers, who would risk their assets every time they walked.
The SEC complaint also alleges Celsius and Mashinsky misrepresented the core aspects of Celsius’s business. As if they sold a house without revealing that it was infested by termites, had a leaky roofing, and was in an area prone flooding. They made false and deceptive statements about their trading and business models, risks, financial health and success of the company and the safety and security of customers’ assets on Celsius’s platform.
The SEC’s lawsuit also charges Mashinsky and Celsius with market manipulation. It is like a puppeteer pulling the strings to get his puppets to dance to his tune. The SEC’s complaint alleges that they engaged in a plan to artificially boost and support the CEL price, Celsius’ own crypto asset security. This was done through manipulative purchases far exceeding their publically disclosed purchases.
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The Southern District of New York charges are as serious and grave as a heartattack. The charges seek to ban Mashinsky as an officer or director in a public company, and they seek monetary relief, including civil penalties, disgorgement profits, and interest before judgment.
Celsius has, like a prodigal, decided to cooperate and consent to the SEC’s relief request, including a permanent injunction to prevent future violations of securities law.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern District of New York, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission have both announced parallel actions that are reminiscent of a legal thriller. Both agencies accuse Mashinsky of similar violations.
The SEC’s ongoing investigation by a legal team is similar to a detective story in progress. With each new chapter, more evidence is revealed against the accused.
The SEC thanked the FBI and the CFTC for their assistance. The SEC has expressed its appreciation for the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the FBI, and the CFTC.
This case is a reminder to all those in the crypto world, where rules are still being formulated, that the law does not exist as an option, but rather a requirement. This case is a warning to those who believe they can get away with playing fast and loose with investors’ money. The message is clear: the watchdogs will not hesitate to bite.