Voyager Denies SEC Claims VGX Token Is a Security as Binance.US Decision Looms

The bankrupt crypto lender needs court approval to be acquired by Binance's U.S. affiliate.

AccessTimeIconMar 6, 2023 at 3:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 6, 2023 at 7:39 p.m. UTC

Bankrupt crypto lender Voyager Digital has denied claims by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that its VGX token is a security as it seeks court approval for a $1.02 billion buyout offer from Binance.US.

Delays to the deal are costing the company $10 million per month, a filing Sunday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of Voyager said. The firm expressed surprise at the delays and evolutions in the SEC’s position on the matter and urged a speedy resolution to its bankruptcy case. Voyager filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July.

Voyager “disagree[s] with any assertion, by SEC staff or otherwise, that VGX is a security, and the debtors’ view is supported by a legal opinion from a nationally recognized law firm,” according to a statement by Mark Renzi, Voyager’s financial adviser.

Renzi cited CoinDesk reporting of remarks by the SEC’s William Uptegrove, who first on Thursday declined to take a position on VGX’s status and then on Friday told the court the SEC's staff believe Binance.US is running an illegal securities exchange because financial instruments should be registered with the regulator. The statement didn't reflect the views of the SEC commissioners, Uptegrove said.

“This supplemental statement from the SEC’s counsel was a surprise to the debtors,” Renzi said. He added Voyager had given the regulator information on VGX on the topic around one and half years ago and hence might reasonably have considered the matter closed.

“The debtors are burning more than $10 million a month” until the deal is completed, the filing said, and so a longer legal process means less funds to distribute to creditors. “The debtors cannot responsibly delay any further to accommodate the SEC’s apparent evolving deliberative process.”

Although bankruptcy court Judge Michael Wiles on Thursday said he was “absolutely shocked” by the vague nature of the SEC’s objection, Renzi has now proposed modifications to the exact wording of the deal, which he said were too minor to warrant another vote by creditors.

In December, Binance.US said it would acquire Voyager, but in response to SEC revelations at recent hearings, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tweeted that he might “pull out.”

Shortly after that tweet, Zhao clarified in another tweet that he is “still in support of the deal and helping returning funds to users as quickly as possible, if allowed to do so.”

The court hearing to approve the deal enters its third day on Monday.


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Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler was a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.