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Canadian Pension Fund Takes $150M Hit From Celsius Investment

CDPQ doesn't expect to get any of its money back, says CEO Charles Edmond.

2 min read
Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Web Summit via Sportsfile

CDPQ, one of Canada’s largest pension managers, has written off its $150 million investment in bankrupt crypto lender Celsius Network.

“We knew there were challenges in regards to [crypto assets], but perhaps we underestimated those challenges,” Charles Edmond, CEO of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) said on Wednesday. 

CDPQ reported a $26 billion loss for the first half of the year, which amounts to a return of -7.9%, according to a press release from the firm.

When CDPQ announced that it had added Celsius Network to its portfolio in October 2021—in the middle of the crypto market’s run to a nearly $3 trillion market cap—Alexandre Synnett, the pension manager’s chief technology officer, said in a press release that it was “the world’s leading crypto lender.”

At the time, Celsius had recently announced that it had $25 billion assets under management and more than 1 million customers on its platform. But it was already facing scrutiny from regulators after receiving cease and desist letters from authorities in Kentucky, Texas, and New Jersey.

After Celsius Network CEO Alex Mashinsky repeatedly assured customers that their funds were safe, the company froze accounts on June 12. It kept accounts frozen for four weeks, while repaying $1 billion in outstanding loans from decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols Aave, Maker, and Compound. Then, on July 13, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Details about how the company was run leading up to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing have started to come to light. Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that multiple unnamed sources said Mashinsky told the Celsius Network investment team he would personally assume control of the company’s trading in January.

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