The U.S. government has a “substantial case on the merits” in its bid to quash a $1 billion deal by Binance.US to buy the assets of bankrupt crypto lender Voyager, a New York judge said Friday.
District Judge Jennifer Rearden said she’d try and move quickly to settle a dispute, given that delays could cost as much as $10 million per month for the estate.
Earlier in March, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Wiles approved the sale, but this week Rearden said she would put that on hold while she considered objections from the U.S. Attorney that the contract effectively rendered Voyager immune by exculpating it from breaches of tax or securities law.
Government arguments have “gone entirely unrebutted” by Voyager and its creditors, “neither of which has provided any authority for the proposition that a bankruptcy court can release criminal liability,” Rearden said.
In her further reasoning published Friday, Rearden appeared sympathetic to government arguments, saying that “the Exculpation Clause appears to go further than the quasi-judicial immunity doctrine allows.”
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Binance’s U.S. arm bid for Voyager last year after FTX, the previous bidder, itself collapsed. This week saw Binance’s global entity and its chief executive officer, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, sued by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for offering unregistered crypto derivatives. Zhao said the suit is an “incomplete recitation of facts.”
Rearden has set a swift deadline to resolve the Voyager issue, with the government asked to send its brief by April 7 and a response to Voyager due by April 18.