US regulators are prying deep into the remnants of failed hedge fund Three Arrows Capital as they try to untangle the fallout of this year’s crypto crash.
Three Arrows, which until recently was one of the industry’s most prominent firms, filed for bankruptcy in July after the broad sell-off in digital assets spurred in part by the collapse of the Terra blockchain. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission are now looking into whether the money manager violated rules by misleading investors about the strength of its balance sheet and not registering with the agencies, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Scrutiny from the agencies, both of which declined to comment, can lead to monetary fines and other penalties for firms and individuals. A lawyer listed in bankruptcy court filings as a representative for Three Arrows founders Su Zhu and Kyle Davies didn’t immediately respond to an email and phone call seeking comment. The inquiries were made outside local business hours in Singapore.
The founders’ whereabouts remain unknown. Zhu didn’t respond to a request for comment, and Davies didn’t immediately respond to a message sent to him via Twitter. Teneo, an advisory firm appointed by a British Virgin Islands court to liquidate Three Arrows, which is also known as 3ac, declined to comment.
At its zenith, Three Arrows counted a few billion dollars under management, making it a major player in the crypto world. Known for its bullish stance, it was also a recipient of loans from firms across the industry, and was a venture investor in some of the industry’s best-known startups.
But the firm sustained losses on its position in the Terra blockchain project, which came crashing down as the so-called algorithmic stablecoin TerraUSD crumbled in May. As the token’s collapse spread across the broader crypto market over the following weeks, 3ac was unable to meet margin calls from its lenders and eventually declared insolvency.
Liquidators overseeing the wind-down of the firm, which operated from Singapore until at least early May, have seized control of tens of millions of dollars of the fund’s assets. But that’s a fraction of the billions of dollars that creditors including bankrupt crypto lenders Voyager Digital and Celsius Network, said they were owed.
Teneo, the court appointed liquidator, has claimed that 3ac’s founders haven’t fully cooperated with the unwinding. They took the unusual step of asking a US judge for permission to serve Zhu and Davies with subpoenas through their Twitter accounts and email addresses because normal methods have failed, according to court documents filed last week.
Celsius is also facing scrutiny from US regulators. Lawyers for the firm this month disclosed it had received a federal grand jury subpoena from the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, as well as inquiries from the CFTC, SEC and Federal Trade Commission. The CFTC is investigating if Celsius failed to disclose how customers’ funds were used, and if some of its conduct amounted to market manipulation, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The regulator declined to comment on its probe of the crypto lender. A representative for Celsius said the firm is “cooperating with all regulatory inquiries, and regulators are key stakeholders in our reorganization.” The firm declined to comment on the specifics of any inquires.
Although the CFTC’s jurisdiction over crypto is generally limited to derivatives, the agency can take enforcement action if it believes there’s fraud or manipulation in the underlying market. The SEC claims oversight over digital coins that qualify as securities under its rules. Both regulators also oversee investment firms.
The CFTC and the SEC aren’t the only authorities that have turned up the heat on Three Arrows. On June 30, the Monetary Authority of Singapore reprimanded the firm for allegedly providing false information and exceeding the limit on its assets under management.
Court documents earlier this month indicated that the liquidators of the fund had gotten permission to repatriate some assets from Singapore to the British Virgin Islands.