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SEC Scrutinizes Terraform’s $166M Transfer to Dentons

Crypto | Feb 29, 2024

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SEC scrutinizes Terraform Labs for a $166 million fund amid bankruptcy proceedings

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is taking action against Terraform Labs by scrutinizing a $166 million transfer to the law firm Dentons.  Amidst Terraform Labs' bankruptcy saga, the move raises questions about the intentions behind substantial financial transfers made since the start of 2023. The SEC's allegations suggest these funds may have been aimed at evading potential future judgments related to the SEC's lawsuit against the company. This development adds a new layer to the complex narrative surrounding Terraform Labs, particularly in light of the company's involvement in the dramatic collapse of the TerraUSD stablecoin, which erased billions in investor assets.

  • The SEC has highlighted suspicious financial activities involving Terraform Labs, including a significant $166 million transfer to Dentons. This action is part of a broader investigation into the company's financial management and legal strategies following its bankruptcy filing.
  • Terraform Labs' decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy was reportedly influenced by the looming financial penalties from federal regulators. The company's financial maneuvers, including the contested transfers, were ostensibly aimed at covering legal expenses, including those of its co-founder, Do Kwon, who faces criminal charges in multiple jurisdictions.

See:  SEC Intensifies Accounting Audits in 2023

  • While the SEC does not oppose Terraform Labs' payment of legitimate legal expenses, the regulator has raised concerns over the magnitude of the funds transferred to Dentons. The SEC's objections reflect apprehensions about the potential misuse of company assets, emphasizing the need for transparency and accountability in the use of such funds.

Follow the Money

  • Following its bankruptcy declaration, Terraform petitioned the court overseeing its bankruptcy for authorization to engage Dentons as its special litigation counsel and to allocate $6.3 million towards the legal expenses of its staff and essential external collaborators embroiled in litigation. Terraform's legal documents reveal that approximately $3.25 million from this sum is designated for covering the legal costs of its employees.
  • Terraform is also pursuing approval to expend roughly $1.33 million on a lawsuit in the UK, which it believes will unearth crucial evidence from a cryptocurrency trading firm beneficial to its defense against the SEC's legal actions.

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  • According to the SEC, the bulk of the retainer fees, amounting to $122 million, were moved to Dentons within the 90 days leading up to Terraform's bankruptcy filing. Consequently, this sum might be subject to reclamation to settle debts with Terraform's other creditors, presenting a possible conflict of interest between Terraform and Dentons, as pointed out by the regulatory body.
  • Bottom line:  The SEC contends that Dentons should be precluded from representing Terraform, its staff, or its contractors unless it reimburses $81 million still held in the retainer fund and agrees to have its subsequent charges reviewed and approved by the bankruptcy court.

SEC Said:

The money has been "siphoned" into an "opaque slush fund for its lawyers," to the detriment of the investors and creditors who will seek to be repaid in Terraform's bankruptcy.

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Why It Matters

For stakeholders in the fintech and investment sectors, this case underscores the importance of regulatory compliance, financial transparency, and the potential repercussions of legal entanglements on corporate stability and investor trust.


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - SEC Scrutinizes Terraform's $166M Transfer to DentonsThe National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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