Roni Cohen-Pavon, the former chief revenue officer of the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency lender Celsius Network, has pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges related to the collapse of the crypto lending network last year.
Cohen-Pavon, along with former CEO and co-founder Alex Mashinsky, was charged in July with market manipulation and wire fraud for artificially inflating the value of CEL, according to court documents.
The case is part of a series of charges against key figures in the crypto lending sector. Crypto lenders such as Celsius saw rapid growth as crypto prices surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, promising easy loan access and remarkable interest rates to depositors and lending tokens to institutional investors, aiming to profit from the difference.
However, in 2022, a flurry of customer withdrawals and a dramatic drop in cryptocurrency prices led to the collapse of crypto lenders like Celsius and FTX as they failed to meet those demands. Mashinsky, however, reportedly withdrew $10 million from the company just weeks before its bankruptcy.
Mashinsky, who also faces civil fraud charges brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, has “vehemently” denied the charges and intends to fight them in court. He was released after his arrest in July on a $40 million bail.
Cohen-Pavon and Mashinsky are not the only high-profile crypto industry figures facing criminal or civil charges. Ex-FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and former Terraform Labs CEO Do Kwon are both facing criminal charges from the Department of Justice, while the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed dozens of suits against various actors and projects, including major industry players such as Binance and Coinbase.
Cohen-Pavon’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 11, 2024, marking a significant date in the ongoing saga of legal proceedings against key figures in the crypto lending industry.