Roger Ver and CoinFlex

Roger Ver accused of defaulting on $47M CoinFLEX debt

Early ‘crypto’ backer Roger Ver has been fingered as the individual whose alleged financial shortcomings caused a recent halt in withdrawals at an exchange in which he is an investor.

Last week, the Hong Kong-headquartered/Seychelles-incorporated CoinFLEX digital currency yield platform/exchange announced that it had “temporarily” paused customer withdrawals “as a protective measure.” On Monday, the platform announced that it hoped to resume withdrawals on Thursday (30th) but this timeline would be subject to a rather unorthodox—but increasingly prevalent—fundraising scheme.

In a new white paper that is all of one-and-a-half pages long, CoinFLEX explained its plan to issue a new token (rvUSD) priced at a 1:1 ratio with the value of the USDC stablecoin. CoinFLEX will issue a total of 47 million rvUSD—the ‘rv’ stands for ‘recovery value’, more on this later—with purchases restricted to “sophisticated investors” who (a) don’t reside in the U.S., (b) have demonstrated the capacity to take a financial hit and (c) are willing to buy a minimum 100k of the new tokens.

Among the incentives CoinFLEX is dangling to entice these whales to beach themselves on rvUSD’s shore are a 20% APR accrued and paid daily (in the same rvUSD) plus a share of 2.5 million of the platform’s proprietary FLEX Coin—the value of which has fallen off a cliff since withdrawals were halted—that is being put aside in the hope that the aforementioned ‘recovery’ proves viable (again, more on this below).

There are myriad concerns with the above scenario, not the least of which is the checkered history of platforms promising customers double-digit returns in exchange for placing their faith in the platform’s shitcoins. And the idea of shoring up losses by issuing yet another shitcoin out of the blue has proven to be crypto’s La Brea Tar Pits, a place that preserves ‘crypto’ bros’ seemingly limitless stupidity for future generations to study.

Bitcoin Judas?

As for what sparked the need for rvUSD in the first place, CoinFLEX explained that “a long-time customer of CoinFLEX’s account went into negative equity, meaning the Individual’s account currently holds a negative balance.” Normally, this meant the account would be liquidated, but the customer in question “had a non-liquidation recourse account,” which required him/her “to pledge stringent personal guarantees around account equity and margin calls in exchange for not being liquidated.”

The unidentified individual was described as “a high integrity person of significant means, experiencing temporary liquidity issues due to a credit (and price) crunch in crypto markets (and even non- crypto markets) who has significant shareholdings in several unicorn private companies and a large portfolio.” CoinFLEX added that the individual “had consistently met every margin call before this incident.” 

On Monday, rumors spread that the ‘high integrity’ deadbeat was none other than Roger ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ Ver—who is listed as an investor on the CoinFLEX site—but CoinFLEX initially appeared reluctant to either confirm or deny these rumors. That uncertainty was obliterated mid-Tuesday, when CoinFLEX CEO Mark Lamb abruptly tweeted that “Roger Ver owes CoinFLEX $47 Million USDC.”

Lamb said his firm has “a written contract with [Ver] obligating him to personally guarantee any negative equity on his CoinFLEX account and top up margin regularly. He has been in default of this agreement and we have served a notice of default.”

Lamb added that Ver “is denying that the debt pertains to him,” forcing the company to “clarify to the public that yes – the debt is 100% related to his account.” Lamb noted that Ver is an EU citizen and is believed to have “significant assets in the US, UK and other relevant jurisdictions.”

In an emailed statement to Bloomberg, Ver claimed that “I have no debt to CoinFlex.” Ver had earlier tweeted that rumors that he’d “defaulted on a debt to a counter-party” were false, adding that “this counter-party owes me a substantial sum of money, and I am currently seeking the return of my funds.” Lamb responded by tweeting that “CoinFLEX categorically denies that we have any debts owing to [Ver].”

A wretched hive of scum and villainy

Prior to outing Ver, Lamb told Bloomberg that the company would no longer be offering the type of insider account that Ver enjoyed, while helpfully suggesting that CoinFLEX “need to do at least as good as, if not, much better than DeFi with respect to transparency.” Lamb noted that this step “will have a damage to privacy” but traders would appreciate “the additional comfort they get from knowing the risk and leverage implicit in the system.”

With respect, comfort is a rare commodity in digital currency these days, while existential risk is omnipresent. To say that this public blow-up is the last thing the digital currency sector needs right now is a serious understatement. Coming as it does amid a flurry of defaults, collapses, rug-pulls and the evaporation of (literally) trillions in paper wealth, the headlines will serve as kryptonite for any retail investors who hadn’t yet got their fingers burned in the latest crypto meltdown.

As this is being written, Ver’s beloved BCH token is taking it hard, falling nearly 5% on the day to below $110, about one-quarter of its value when the year began. CoinFLEX is heavily reliant on BCH trading volume, so the friction could have ramifications far beyond a single day’s price dip.

Hopefully Ver will still have enough money to pay the attorneys defending him in the defamation suit brought by Dr. Craig Wright in Antigua & Barbuda, the real-world figure behind the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym credited with authoring the Bitcoin white paper. Ver, who did time in a U.S. federal prison for selling illegal explosives online, publicly called Wright “a liar and a fraud” in 2019 in a bid to discredit the Bitcoin SV technology that Wright supports and Ver knows makes BCH superfluous.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups from BitMEX to BinanceBitcoin.comBlockstreamShapeShiftCoinbaseRipple,
EthereumFTX and Tether—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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