Crypto billionaire’s firm is all things to bankrupt Voyager

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – The bankruptcy filing by crypto broker Voyager Digital provides a road map of the company’s relationships, including borrowers, lenders and investors.

It turns out Alameda Research, the trading firm co-founded by crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, is all three.

As a lender to Voyager, Alameda is owed US$75 million (S$105 million) under a credit line it offered to the troubled platform last month. But Alameda also owes Voyager US$376.8 million on a loan, the filing shows. Alameda is also one of Voyager’s largest shareholders, with a more than 9 per cent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Alameda’s multiple roles exemplify its extensive influence in crypto, and helps explain why Mr Bankman-Fried is such a key player in the industry.

Mr Bankman-Fried founded the firm in 2017 to execute crypto arbitrage trades before moving on to run the now-giant crypto exchange FTX. The ties also underscore the interconnected nature of crypto firms, a feature that has accelerated losses across the industry during the market’s meltdown this year.

“There is a lot of incestuous activity among crypto-lending firms,” said Mr Aaron Brown, a crypto investor who writes for Bloomberg Opinion. “In traditional finance there is more public disclosure and regulatory oversight of these arrangements. There are mechanisms in place (not always effective) to manage conflicts of interest. But crypto is different.”

The multiple roles played by Alameda point to the extent of “recycled capital” in crypto, which masks the health of institutions in the space, said Georgetown University law professor Adam Levitin. “It is likely to lead to overly large exposures and exacerbates interconnectedness among institutions.”

As Voyager ran into potential liquidity problems stemming from Three Arrows, it secured a credit line worth about US$485 million from Alameda in mid-June, of which it has drawn US$75 million, the maximum amount allowed in any 30-day period.

The lifeline was only a partial solution that could not save Voyager, the filing says.

Meanwhile, as a borrower, Alameda is still on the hook to repay Voyager despite its bankruptcy proceedings.

These kinds of relationships can complicate disputes during time of stress.

CoinFlex, a crypto exchange, recently accused its own investor and client Roger Ver for failing to pay US$47 million in a margin call. Mr Ver denied the claim, and their dispute played out in public on social media.