Voyager Digital was ‘no better than a house of cards’ — CFTC commissioner

A commissioner for the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has slammed Voyager Digital for its mistakes that eventually led to the loss of billions of dollars of customer funds.

In an Oct. 12 statement, Commissioner Kristin Johnson took aim at Voyager for misleading practices, ignoring warning signs, and “bare-bones due diligence,” which failed to protect customers.

“Because of Voyager’s failures, the company became no better than a house of cards.”

The commodities said Voyager turned a blind eye to what its subsidiary investment firms were doing with its own customer funds:

“It is astounding that Voyager failed to exert pressure on the firms where it invested its customers’ assets.”

“Instead of demanding that investment firms that received customer assets offer greater levels of transparency, Voyager shirked the long-established expectations for custodians and simply dispatched customer funds with little effort to preserve the same,” she added.

Johnson’s comments came after the regulator, along with the Federal Trade Commission, filed parallel lawsuits against Voyager’s former CEO Stephen Ehrlich on Oct. 12.

The CFTC lawsuit alleges Ehrlich and Voyager conducted fraud and “registration failures” over its platform and its “unregistered commodity pool”.

The FTC, on the other hand, reached a proposed settlement with Voyager, banning the firm from offering, marketing, or promoting any product or service that could be used to deposit, exchange, invest, or withdraw any assets, according to an Oct. 12 statement.

Voyager and its affiliates agreed to a judgment of $1.65 billion, which will go toward repaying customers in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Meanwhile, a separate Oct. 12 statement from CFTC Commissioner Caroline Pham said the regulator will continue to pursue action against cryptocurrency firms that misuse customer funds:

“There is a significant difference between managing investor money for the purpose of trading derivatives, and taking deposits and providing loans to others. Without financing and consumer credit, our economy would grind to a halt.”

Related: CFTC issues $54M default judgment against trader in crypto fraud scheme

However, Pham thinks the CFTC may have stepped outside the bounds of its authority in interpreting what constitutes a commodity pool operator:

“Such an interpretation is an overreach beyond our statutory authority and would disrupt well-established legal and regulatory frameworks for lending to institutions and consumer finance.”

On Sept. 7, Pham called for the CFTC to establish a cryptocurrency regulatory pilot program which would address the risks retail investors face.

Voyager filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2022 where it indicated that it may owe anywhere between $1 billion to $10 billion in assets to more than 100,000 creditors.

The cryptocurrency brokerage firm opened withdrawals for customers in June.

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