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09 Dec 2022

Amber Group owes troubled crypto lender Vauld’s CEO $130 million

Amber Group owes troubled crypto lender Vauld’s CEO $130 million

Amber Group, a struggling crypto trading firm, owes around $130 million to troubled crypto lender Vauld's CEO Darshan Bathija.

In July, Vauld mentioned in its affidavit that it has a loan receivable worth around $130 million net from an unnamed "Counterparty 1" and that counterparty is Amber, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told The Block.

"Defi Payments has a loan receivable in the amount of ~US$165,557,929 (the 'Counterparty 1 Loan Receivable') from Counterparty 1 against which Defi Payments has taken a loan of ~US$35,000,000 (the 'Counterparty 1 Loan Payable') from Counterparty 1, where the Counterparty 1 Loan Receivable has been pledged as security against the Counterparty 1 Loan Payable," the affidavit obtained by The Block at the time reads. The net loan receivable translates to about $130 million. Defi Payments is the Singapore entity of Vauld involved in court proceedings.

The Block has separately also obtained a document that shows Amber owes that same amount to Bathija, who parked Vauld's funds in his name with Amber.

Amber declined to comment to The Block when contacted. Vauld and Kroll (Vauld's financial advisor) did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Vauld halted client withdrawals in July and owes more than $400 million to creditors. Amber, on the other hand, appears to be struggling lately. The firm has reportedly undergone several recent layoff rounds, put its expansion plans on hold, and scrapped a $25 million yearly sponsorship deal with Chelsea FC. Amber is said to further cut staff to less than 400 from 700.

The fact that Amber owes Bathija a significant amount is the latest blow for Vauld. Amber has to repay Bathija by June 2023, according to the latest Vauld affidavit dated Nov. 25.

Vauld has not disclosed to its creditors or creditors' committee that Counterparty 1 is Amber due to a non-disclosure agreement, according to the affidavit. But Vauld said that Counterparty 1, also sometimes referred to as Counterparty A in affidavits, is "is sizable and well known."

If Amber fails to repay Bathija on time, Vauld could struggle further. The Block reported recently that Vauld has around $10 million stuck on the bankrupt crypto exchange FTX. The affidavit states that figure to be $6 million. India's Enforcement Directorate recently froze Vauld's assets worth $46 billion, after the agency found a Vauld client was involved in a money laundering case.

Vauld has been discussing a potential deal with rival Nexo since July. It remains to be seen whether Nexo will make a deal with Vauld, given its growing troubles. Nexo declined to comment.

Vauld has until Jan. 20 to sort its financial issues unless it applies and gets approval for another credit protection extension.

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