A federal judge has ordered crypto lender Celsius to return crypto worth around $44 million to its customers.
According to Bloomberg, the order was delivered by United States Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn verbally at a Dec. 7 hearing, with the judge noting:
“I want this case to move forward. I want creditors to recover as much as they possibly can as soon as they possibly can.”
The order only involves crypto held in custodial accounts, and the $44 million is a tiny fraction of the billions Celsius owes creditors. The order comes after an agreement was reached between Celsius advisers and stakeholders that crypto deposited in custody accounts belonged to its users and not the platform.
It is important to note that this order only applies to pure custody assets — those that have never touched Celsius’ Earn accounts and have only ever been held in the custody program.
Celsius held over $210 million in custody accounts as of Aug. 29, but only around $44 million of that fit within the latest order’s criteria.
On the other hand, Celsius' Earn accounts, which enabled depositors to earn interest, are where the majority of the $4.7 billion user funds are currently locked up.
Celsius has argued that users who deposited funds within its Earn accounts gave up ownership when they agreed to the company’s terms of service. A Dec. 5 Bloomberg report suggests that Celsius is looking to sell $18 million of stablecoins held in these accounts to fund its reorganization, with Judge Glenn set to address the issue of fund ownership on Dec. 12.
Meanwhile, on Dec. 5, the lender received approval from the judge for a $2.8 million key employee retention program (KERP) that it filed on Oct. 11.
#CELSIUS HEARING LIVE: KERP is approved. Discussing Celsius Exclusivity now. K&E talking about the Feb 15 compromise. Expanding that the auctions and plan formation are all in coordination with the UCC and they are cognizant of the level of frustration in the community.— Simon Dixon (Beware Impersonators) (@SimonDixonTwitt) December 5, 2022
The program involves bonuses to select employees, to ensure they remain with the firm so that it may continue its limited business operations.
Celsius employees have been quitting in droves, with only 170 remaining compared to the 370 it had when it first started the bankruptcy proceedings.