‘A Damaged Brand’: Former Celsius Employee on the Crypto Lender’s Mismanagement and Alleged Token Manipulation

Timothy Cradle, former compliance and financial crimes director at crypto lender Celsius Network, joined CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” to discuss the platform’s alleged questionable practices.

AccessTimeIconJul 20, 2022 at 7:05 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 5:17 p.m. UTC
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Now-insolvent crypto lending company Celsius Network operated in a hectic, chaotic and disorganized manner, according to one former employee.

Timothy Cradle, the platform’s former compliance and financial crimes director, told CoinDesk TV “of sloppiness and mismanagement” at the company.

“Certain teams were too small and communication was a bit poor between departments, and especially across Celsius U.K. and Celsius U.S.,” Cradle said on CDTV’s “First Mover” program. “Celsius wasn’t the exception to what one would expect.”

The New Jersey-based crypto lender recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of New York, after freezing customer withdrawals more than a month prior.

Cradle said he was motivated to speak out about internal practices within Celsius because the company allegedly betrayed one of its core promises – transparency.

Manipulating the CEL Token?

Among oddities, said Cradle, was an onboarding session with a customer at which the Celsius chief financial officer said the company did not engage in trading. “That just didn’t make any sense to me,” said Cradle, noting Celsius had a trading desk and a head of trading.

He noted that trading wasn’t even in Celsius’ risk disclosures that were made to customers.

“I didn’t think there was anything intentional or malicious about withholding that information,” he said. “I just thought Celsius didn’t want people to know how they were generating yield.”

While Cradle said he does not think Celsius should have been compelled to disclose to whom it was lending, the company’s risk disclosure should have provided insight into how it was deploying assets.

Cradle also hinted that alleged market manipulation was taking place, and detailed a conversation during a Christmas party back in 2019. “The CFO and the head of trading at the time mentioned they were active in the market, attempting to increase the price [of Celsius' CEL token],” he claimed.

In another conversation that took place near the end of 2020 between an executive and a compliance team member, Cradle said he heard Celsius was looking to hold prices of the CEL token down in order to trim the bonus pool.

“It seems pretty apparent that Celsius was actively manipulating the price of the [CEL] token,” Cradle said.

“I think someone would have to be frankly insane to trust Celsius with their assets at this point,” said Cradle, throwing shade on the company’s efforts at avoiding liquidation and instead continuing as an ongoing business.

CoinDesk reached out for comment from Celsius but had not yet received a response at the time of publishing.


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CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Fran Velasquez

Fran is CoinDesk's TV writer and reporter.

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