Former Celsius Executive Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Price Manipulation

The world of cryptocurrency, known for its innovation and promise of decentralized finance, has seen its fair share of controversies

by Faruk Imamovic
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Former Celsius Executive Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Price Manipulation
© Getty Images News/Jack Taylor

The world of cryptocurrency, known for its innovation and promise of decentralized finance, has seen its fair share of controversies. A recent revelation has brought to light yet another high-profile scandal in the sector. Roni Cohen-Pavon, the former chief revenue officer of the cryptocurrency lending firm Celsius, has found himself at the center of this storm.

Charges and Guilty Plea

According to a September 13 filing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Cohen-Pavon has pleaded guilty to several serious charges. These include conspiracy to commit price manipulation, securities fraud, manipulation of security prices, and wire fraud.

The sentencing hearing for Cohen-Pavon is slated for December 11, and in the interim, he has been granted bail. The court has set his bond at $500,000, allowing him to travel between New York and his homeland, Israel. In a related development, prosecutors pointed out that another central figure, Mashinsky, allegedly benefitted to the tune of $42 million from his sales.

Contrasting Cohen-Pavon’s plea, Mashinsky has pleaded not guilty and was subsequently released on a hefty $40 million bond.

A Rapid Rise and Abrupt Fall

The timeline of this saga is intertwined with the broader trajectory of cryptocurrency's popularity, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Firms like Celsius capitalized on this trend, promising depositors easy loan access and offering alluringly high interest rates. The business model revolved around lending out tokens to institutional investors and profiting from the interest rate difference.

However, as the age-old adage goes, what goes up must come down. Celsius faced a swift downfall. As cryptocurrency prices took a nosedive, a wave of customer withdrawals hit the firm. The resulting financial strain led to its eventual implosion.

Celsius wasn't the only casualty. The realm of cryptocurrency witnessed several such bankruptcies, with FTX exchange also falling prey as prices plummeted and interest rates fluctuated. These incidents serve as a stark reminder of the volatile nature of cryptocurrency investments and the importance of transparency and accountability in this rapidly evolving financial domain.

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