Celsius Could Take Down Entire Crypto Ecosystem

Celsius suspends official under probe; 2nd staffer founded firm with money launderer

December 15, 2021 / news / By Arbaz Khan

Celsius Network, a leading US-based cryptocurrency lending platform with a $3 billion valuation, announced last month that one of its senior employees was the focus of an Israeli police probe. The probe is subject to a gag order imposed by an Israeli judge and The Times of Israel is not permitted to reveal the name or identifying details of, or allegations against, the employee. The company announced on November 26 that it had suspended the employee.

The Times of Israel can reveal that a second senior Celsius Network employee, its chief revenue officer Roni Cohen-Pavon, in May established a side business with a convicted money launderer.

Celsius Network, founded in 2017, employs over 100 people in Israel. It operates as a kind of crypto bank that allows clients to deposit cryptocurrency and borrow either cryptocurrency or US dollars. The company recently attracted $750 million in funding from prominent investors, including a Canadian pension fund, and says it manages $26 billion in deposits — compared to $1 billion a year ago. It claims not merely to be benefiting consumers but to be “ushering in a new economy” in which traditional banks will be rendered obsolete by cryptocurrency platforms.

In May, Cohen-Pavon, the Celsius Network’s CRO, registered a new company in Israel with two partners, one of whom is Eliran Oved, a convicted money launderer who went on to run a binary options website.

Eliran Oved spent a year in Israeli prison for running an illegal gambling website, Play2bet.com, in 2004-2008. The site had a turnover of hundreds of millions of dollars, and police said during their investigation that they suspected some of the money gambled on the site came from organized crime groups involved in “illegal activities such as prostitution, drug dealing and loan sharking.”

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