Crypto Financial Services Firm Eqonex Files for Voluntary Debt Restructuring in Singapore

Eqonex (EQOS), a Nasdaq-listed crypto financial services firm, filed a voluntary application with the High Court in Singapore to place the company into judicial management.

In a Monday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Eqonex said its Hong Kong-based entity, Diginex, has been placed into creditors’ voluntary liquidation and Eqonex Capital in Singapore is also expected to enter voluntary liquidation.

The company signed a strategic partnership with Bifinity, a payments technology firm owned by crypto exchange Binance, in March as it began preparing to focus on custody, brokerage and asset management. Bifinity agreed to provide a $36 million loan that could be converted into equity and Jonathan Farnell, former head of U.K. operations at Binance, became CEO. Due to technical breaches of the loan agreement, Bifinity withheld the fifth tranche of the loan.

“In order to address these liquidity issues, the group has been in negotiation with potential investors to obtain equity financing through the issuance of new shares, and in negotiation with Bifinity seeking, amongst other things, a waiver of breaches and an amendment of terms under the loan agreement. Unfortunately, despite the group’s best efforts, these negotiations have not been successful,” the company said.

Other units of the group, including Bletchley Park Asset Management and Digivault, are not in insolvency proceedings. Digivault, a custodian registered with the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority, will start a voluntary wind-down and will try to find an alternative solution. Eqonex closed its crypto exchange in August, citing extreme market volatility and declining trading volumes, saying it planned to focus on its asset management and custody.

Judicial management is a type of restructuring in which an independent overseer is appointed to handle a company that cannot meet its debt obligations.

The company’s shares fell almost 24% yesterday, as contagion fears engulfed the crypto market. They have tumbled 91% this year. When Eqonex listed in October 2020 it was the first Nasdaq company with a cryptocurrency exchange.

Ensuring the company was properly regulated at a time that “grow-at-all cost” development characterized the crypto space may have hurt its ability to grow as fast as it wanted, the company said in a letter to shareholders posted on its website.

"We must now acknowledge that we have not delivered on the ambitious goals we set for ourselves as one of the first listed, regulated digital asset ecosystems," it said.

Neither Eqonex nor Binance respond to requests for comment before publication.