Documents Reveal Divorce Dispute May Be at Heart of Cryptsy Issues
Months before the digital currency exchange Cryptsy declared its insolvency and claimed it was the target of a debilitating hack and theft, CEO Paul Vernon's estranged wife claimed in a court filing that she was afraid her husband would flee the country with funds taken from businesses he owns, including Cryptsy.
Court documents obtained by CoinDesk offer new details about an ongoing legal battle between Vernon and his wife, Lorie Ann Nettles, who filed for divorce last fall.
The motion for injunctive relief sought a court order freezing the assets of Cryptsy and other entities owned by Vernon and preventing any sale or transfer of marital assets. The filing, submitted to the 15th Judicial Circuit of Florida on 28th October, also placed a travel restriction on Vernon pending the completion of the proceedings.
At the time of the filing, Nettles accused Vernon of "intentionally and willfully dissipating" those assets.
The filing alleges that Vernon was maintaining an extramarital relationship and providing support to the unnamed individual, who is said to be a Chinese national.
The court document states:
"The Motion for Temporary Relief included allegations of the Husband's transfer of substantial amounts of monies to his paramour, and his ongoing financial support of his paramour and his paramour's children. The Motion for Temporary Relief also reference the Husband's international business interests, at least one of which is located in China and is believed to be in the name of his paramour."
Information about the case came to light amid a growing controversy surrounding the exchange, which for months has restricted access to customer funds. Last month, two Florida law firms filed a class action lawsuit against the exchange.
Asset flight risk alleged
Nettles went on to claim that "a majority, if not most", of the marital assets were being held in the form of digital currency – a fact the filing argues necessitated the asset freeze.
"Because a majority, if not most, of the marital assets under the husband’s exclusive control are virtual currencies, it is imperative that the court move quickly to prevent asset flight and prevent the need for expensive and complex asset tracing should the husband take any further action to dissipate these assets," the filing states.
Nettles also alleges that Vernon was, at the time, planning to depart the US for China "to start a new life", and that if he were to leave, "it will be very easy for him to take with him all of his virtual currency assets and evade the reach of this court".
Notably, Vernon told CoinDesk last month that he was traveling in China.
The filing goes on to state:
"Should the husband leave the country, it will be very easy for him to take with him all of his virtual currency assets and evade the reach of this court, leaving the minor children and the wife without any adequate remedy at law. Likewise, the Husband should be expressly barred from transmitting any virtual currency wallet or assets to any third party or person."
Vernon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Altcoin withdrawals open
Since announcing that it was insolvent, the exchange has allowed withdrawals for some of the altcoins it lists, though cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and litecoin remain unavailable for users.
According to a notice posted to the main Cryptsy page, trading and deposits remain inactive at press time.
On 4th February, Vernon posted an update to the Cryptsy blog advising customers to submit withdrawal requests as more altcoin wallets become active.
"I apologize for the delay in updates – we've continued to open more wallets for withdrawal and I will post a full list of what is open shortly," he wrote, adding:
"We suggest anybody having coins in these open wallets to remove them from the exchange as soon as possible."
For more information, read the full court documents below:
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