Crypto Lender Nexo Battles Former Co-Founder

Nexo’s former director Georgi Shulev is refusing to comply with a settlement agreement to transfer cryptoassets, the lender claimed

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key takeaways

  • Shulev, who was terminated from his position in 2019, and Nexo are battling over a corporate account
  • The account was frozen because Shulev tried to access it after his exit

London-based cryptocurrency lender Nexo is pursuing legal action against a former director who claimed partial ownership of an account that the company claims holds corporate assets.

Nexo asked a UK High Court on Wednesday, according to a Law360 report, to order Georgi Shulev to transfer nine types of cryptocurrencies including bitcoin and ether to the company as part of a July settlement agreement.

The firm has already won its case against Shulev. But under the agreement, the former director is set to receive $1 million in USDT and Nexo tokens over five installments.

The lender claims it has been locked out of its corporate account at a time when cryptoasset prices have plunged. Losses pertaining to the assets held in the account stand at about $7.9 million, the lawsuit said.

Nexo and Shulev have been battling over the account, estimated to hold 880 bitcoin, since his position was terminated in September 2019.

The company claims the account is used for corporate purposes, while the former director argues he opened it in a personal capacity and claims ownership of some of its cryptoassets.

Shulev accessed the account even after he was removed by the board, but alleges that he only opened it using his work email out of “convenience,” according to a court filing.  

Nexo’s claim now states that it’s being “deprived” of access to the account, and that the market value of the assets has fallen significantly during the time that it has been locked out.

The lender is “entitled to and claims damages for the breach,” to be evaluated in the account’s base currency of US dollars, the reported claim states.

Why the disputed account was blocked

On the day he was fired, Nexo’s board revoked Shulev’s access to both his corporate email and the account in question, which is opened with trading platform BitMEX.  

The next day, he made a futile attempt to access the account from his home IP address.

On September 15, Shulev contacted HDR Global — BitMEX’s operator — requesting a change of email address to say he was no longer the owner of the old ID and believed his funds could be stolen.

Nexo’s head of trading, however, had warned the custodian Shulev might try to “siphon away funds.” HDR froze the account and asked the High Court to work out who the rightful owner was. 

In an update on August 17, Nexo said BitMEX returned about 871.5 bitcoin — lowered due to fees and court procedure costs.

Settlement agreement in limbo

After Shulev was asked to return the nine classes of cryptocurrencies, he allegedly indicated an unwillingness to do so prior to Nexo making his first installment payment. 

“Transferring the entire amount of the assets at the moment to Nexo and simply sharing the comfort of only being able to receive part of the compensation after Nexo not complying with the agreement as a first step on their side, does not provide me with comfort that they will comply and provide the rest of the settlement,” he told the court.

But the settlement agreement required both sides to inform HDR that the dispute was over, once the transfer of assets was completed. The situation is now in a deadlock, with Shulev still refusing to comply. 

He’s also refused to waive any rights and claims to the disputed BitMEX account — another provision of the July agreement.

“Shulev has wrongfully retained, and continues to retain, the nine assets from Nexo, their rightful owner,” the company said.

Nexo declined to comment on the matter, while Shulev couldn’t be contacted.

This article was updated on August 19 at 5:20 am ET to reflect Nexo recovered 871.5 bitcoin.


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