Bankruptcy judge rejects U.S. government’s request to delay Voyager-Binance.US deal Dorian Batycka · 33 mins ago · 2 min read
Voyager clients have been unable to access their cryptocurrency since the July 2022 bankruptcy declaration.
Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate
A bankruptcy judge has ruled in a court filing on March 15 that the $1 billion bid by Binance.US to purchase Voyager’s assets should proceed — rejecting the U.S. government’s request to suspend the proceedings while the appeal is pending.
Per the court filing, the ruling judge rejected the government’s plea for a delay of the bankruptcy plan’s implementation — known as a stay of the Confirmation order — for an additional two weeks.
On March 14, the government filed an appeal that alleged the bankruptcy plan would protect individuals involved in fraud, theft, or tax evasion, and requested the removal of a provision preventing legal action against them by U.S. authorities.
Voyager agreed in a separate deal to extend the previously scheduled March 15 effective date for the Binance.US purchase to March 20.
In July 2022, Voyager submitted a petition for bankruptcy protection following the failure of Three Arrows Capital (3AC) — a cryptocurrency hedge fund — to fulfill a substantial loan obligation to Voyager.
At the time of the bankruptcy filing, the exchange possessed assets worth around $1.3 billion, with outstanding dues from 3AC of over $650 million — a significant decline from its year-end 2021 asset value of $5.8 billion.
Voyager-Binance.US back on
According to recent court documents, Judge Michael Wiles of the Southern District of New York has stated that the previously approved deal does not release Voyager and its employees from any tax or securities law infringements.
Wiles also warned that any delays in the proceedings would have a detrimental effect on Voyager’s clients who have been unable to access their cryptocurrency since the bankruptcy declaration in July 2022.
In his writing, Wiles stated that the government “exaggerate and in some places mischaracterize what I have done and the authorities on which I have relied, and in other instances rely on hyperbole or on ‘straw man’ arguments.” Provisions in the deal “do not prohibit any regulatory action, including actions to stop the cryptocurrency sales and distributions that the plan contemplates,” Wiles added. “Delays themselves also are a massive issue for the Debtors’ customers.”
Wiles’ rulings means that the provisions in the deal do not prevent any regulatory action, including actions to halt the cryptocurrency sales and distributions outlined in the plan, as has been otherwise reported in the media.
On Monday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane rejected a request from the U.S. government to delay the merger of cryptocurrency exchange Voyager Digital and Binance.US. The proposed merger would give Voyager access to more than three million Binance.US users.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) had raised concerns that the merger would potentially give Voyager “inordinate influence” over the cryptocurrency market, given the company’s size and access to so many new potential customers. In response, the DOJ asked the judge to delay the hearing until after they’d time to investigate the prospect in more depth.
Judge Lane denied the request, citing a lack of evidence of any “substantial injury” to competition that the government alleged could occur if the merger went through. He noted that it was unlikely that a single firm, such as Voyager, could “come to dominate the marketplace” without engaging in some sort of anti-competitive behavior.
Voyager and Binance.US both welcomed the decision. Voyager CEO Steve Ehrlich said, “This decision clears the way for us to move forward with our merger and continue to build a larger, more competitive, and more innovative company.”
The two companies must still gain approval from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority before the merger can be completed. However, this decision from the judge is a crucial step forward in the process. The companies expect that their merger will be finalized in the coming months.