LayerZero Labs, a cross-chain protocol provider, finds itself in the center of a legal storm after FTX, a now-bankrupt crypto exchange, accused it of improperly withdrawing $21 million in anticipation of FTX’s financial collapse in November 2022.
The background of the dispute goes back to a series of transactions between LayerZero and Alameda Ventures, the investment division of Alameda Research and FTX’s sister company, from January to May 2022.
As detailed in court documents from September 9, Alameda Ventures secured approximately a 4.92% stake in LayerZero through an investment of over $70 million in two installments. Additionally, in a separate transaction in March, Alameda Ventures acquired 100 million STG tokens at a public auction for $25 million.
However, tensions between the two entities rose in November when FTX encountered financial difficulties. LayerZero aimed to retrieve its shares from Alameda in exchange for writing off a $45 million loan it had earlier provided. While this and another agreement related to the 100 million STG tokens was brokered, the deal remained unfulfilled.
FTX’s legal complaint hinges on the premise that LayerZero leveraged Alameda Ventures’ liquidity challenges to its advantage, negotiating aggressively with Alameda Research’s then-CEO, Caroline Ellison.
“LayerZero was well aware that Alameda Research was facing a liquidity crisis and, within about 24 hours, negotiated a fire-sale transaction with Caroline Ellison, Alameda Research’s then-CEO,” the lawsuit details.
In response to FTX’s allegations, LayerZero Labs maintains its stance on the legitimacy of its actions. The colmpany argues that all transactions and negotiations were conducted in good faith and in line with industry standards.
LayerZero CEO and co-founder Bryan Pellegrino also directly responded to the allegations, speaking on the matter publicly through an X post:
Regarding the FTX suit, the entire suit is filled with unsubstantiated claims. We have been in communication with the FTX liquidators for almost a year now and have time and time again attempted to proactively address the issue of ownership of the shares with them and have been ignored for the entire time.
LayerZero has highlighted its efforts to arrive at an amicable solution during FTX’s financial crisis, pointing to the proposed return of its shares and the plkanned buyback of STG tokens as evidence of its cooperative approach.
LayerZero Labs has not yet officially commented on FTX’s claims regarding the $21.37 million or the additional amounts sought from former COO Ari Litan and the affiliated Skip & Goose entity (a subsidiary, for context).
As the legal proceedings unfold, LayerZero Labs remains focused on defending its reputation and practices in the face of FTX’s allegations. The firm awaits its day in court to present its side of the story, emphasizing that its primary intent was always to ensure fair business dealings for both parties.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.
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