Fraud claims against Alex Mashinsky are ‘baseless’ and based on online misinformation, the Celsius co-founder and former CEO said in response to a lawsuit brought by New York State.
In a Tuesday filing, Mashinsky’s lawyers responded to claims by New York Attorney General Letitia James that he had misled investors about the crypto lender’s financial health while he was chief executive officer.
The complaint “parrots misinformation on-line about Mashinsky and Celsius Network, LLC … borrows others’ baseless conclusions” and “demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of Celsius’s business, and Mashinsky’s role therein,” said the filing, which calls for the case to be struck out.
The bankruptcy filing, made in July, was due to “calamitous, external events,” that were outside the control of Celsius or its CEO, the filing added, saying that James “cynically cherry picks fragments of statements and sound bites” of YouTube videos made to reassure investors.
“The earn accounts at issue were not securities under well-established law and the Complaint fails to plead adequately the existence of securities or commodities in Celsius’s business model,” the filing said, disputing James’ claims that the company should have been registered as a dealer in financial instruments.
In January, James said Mashinsky used “false and misleading representations” to induce customers to deposit billions of dollars, promising high yields from loans said to be low risk in YouTube videos and other promotional material.
Also in January, Shoba Pillay, an independent examiner appointed as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, found that the company’s business model “differed significantly” from what it told customers, and that Mashinsky’s claim to always have 200% collateral was “far off the mark.”
Mashinsky resigned as CEO in September and is the subject of yasal action to recover funds that Celsius and its creditors say were fraudulently transferred.
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