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TradFi Lender EquitiesFirst Owes Celsius Nearly Half a Billion Dollars: Report

The ​​Indianapolis-based finance company first started doing business with Celsius in 2019, according to a filing.

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Traditional financial services company EquitiesFirst owes bankrupt crypto lending firm Celsius $439 million, the Financial Times reported Friday. 

Two unnamed sources told FT that the Indianapolis-based EquitiesFirst, which specializes in loans secured against company stock, is the unnamed debtor listed in the crypto lender’s bankruptcy filing. The company first started doing business with Celsius back in 2019, according to the filing.

The cash now owed is a large part of the billions of dollars the crypto platform owes to clients and creditors. 

Celsius stopped customer withdrawals last month on its lending platform, saying it needed to “stabilize liquidity” as the price of Bitcoin and every other digital asset plunged. Regulators started investigating and the platform filed for bankruptcy this week. 

The crypto lender’s total liabilities add up to $5.5 billion—most of which it owes to its users—and its bankruptcy filing shows its liabilities outweigh its assets by $1.2 billion.

Today’s FT report said that the $439 million outstanding from EquitiesFirst is made up of $361 million in cash and 3,765 Bitcoin. 

EquitiesFirst started offering crypto collateralized loans back in 2016. Celsius began borrowing from EquitiesFirst in 2019 to support its own operations, according to Thursday’s bankruptcy filing.

In July last year, Celsius went to repay one of its loans and retrieve the collateral—but was told it wouldn’t be able to receive it “on a timely basis.” Celsius then was owed $509 million, which EquitiesFirst has been paying off since September 2021. 

Celsius is just one of many crypto platforms that promised too-good-to-be-true returns, only to run into serious financial trouble when the crypto ecosystem entered a bear market

Fellow crypto lending companies BlockFi and Voyager Digital both received massive bailouts from Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of crypto exchange FTX, after mismanaging their funds. 

Decrypt reached out to both Celsius and EquitiesFirst but did not immediately receive a response.

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