Wintermute Threatens Near Over $11.2M Soured Stablecoin Deal
Wintermute accuses Near of failing to redeem 11.2M USN for USDT
By: Samuel Haig •DeFi News
Wintermute, a crypto market making firm, said it plans to take legal action against the Near Foundation and sister project Aurora Labs for allegedly trying to back out an $11.2M deal between the companies.
On Nov. 7, Evgeny Gaevoy, the CEO of Wintermute CEO, tweeted that his firm agreed to facilitate the sale of 11.2M USN, Near’s now-sunset native stablecoin, on the understanding the tokens would be redeemable for the USDT in Spring 2023, Wintermute went on to purchase the 11.2M USN in exchange for roughly $11M.
Gaevoy said the Near Foundation (NF) assured him and his team that Aurora would facilitate the USN redemption within just “a couple of days” via private chat. However, The firm said it is yet to receive any USDT despite submitting the USN for redemption in August, with Gaevoy claiming he was recently offered redemptions at just 20% on the dollar.
"We relied on public and private messaging by Aurora and NF to get into our USN position, and only upon attempting to convert — after a successful test redemption and 2 months of waiting — NF unilaterally decided to refuse without providing any logical explanation,” Gaevoy tweeted. “The best explanation for this would be incompetence. I’d leave the reader to come up with the worst.”
Wintermute’s CEO said the tweets comprise Wintermute’s final attempt at resolving the situation through a full redemption of its USN tokens. Gaevoy also encouraged other USN holders who have experienced issues trying to redeem their tokens to reach out.
Near’s native stablecoin, USN, started life as an algorithmically-pegged token in April 2022, before adopting a USDT-collateralized model two months following the collapse of Terra’s algorithmic stablecoin, UST.
However, Near’s stablecoin was sunset last October after technical problems left USN undercollateralized by $40M by allowing users to mint too many tokens. The Near Foundation assured users that the missing collateral was “fully covered” by its USN Protection Programme, ensuring that tokenholders could redeem their assets for USN. The stablecoin’s market cap was nearly $250M at the time.
“Near had to step in and cover the hole, setting aside funds to address this via USN Protection Programme, while Aurora Labs got the grant from NF to operate the programme,” Gaevoy said. “It appears to us the programme has been run by Aurora and NF without accountability or transparency.”
Neither Near nor Aurora have issued public statements acknowledging Wintermute’s accusations. On Nov. 7, the Near Foundation announced that its co-founder Illia Polosukhin, had been appointed as its CEO.
NEAR is down 3% in the past 24 hours,and 93% from its January 2022 all-time high, according to CoinGecko.