Feb 3, 2023
Silvergate Shares Slump Amid Fraud Probe by Justice Department
(Bloomberg) -- Silvergate Capital Corp. shares slumped on news that US prosecutors are looking into the bank’s dealings with fallen crypto giants FTX and Alameda Research.
The criminal investigation by the Justice Department’s fraud unit is examining Silvergate’s hosting of accounts tied to Sam Bankman-Fried’s businesses, Bloomberg News reported late Thursday, citing people who asked not to be identified discussing the confidential probe. The crypto-friendly bank hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing and the inquiry, which is in its early phases, could end without charges being brought.
Silvergate shares plunged as much as 17% Friday morning, and were down 5% to $19.93 at 10:06 a.m. in New York. The stock is down 80% in the past year.
Representatives for Silvergate and the Justice Department in Washington, where the investigation is being conducted, declined to comment on the probe.
The inquiry adds to mounting scrutiny of the La Jolla, California-based bank, which has also drawn the attention of lawmakers since the spectacular collapse of FTX spurred fraud charges against Bankman-Fried and some of his top deputies. Earlier this week, lawmakers including Senator Elizabeth Warren told the bank that answers to questions they had posed late last year were “evasive and incomplete” and sent a new round of requests with a Feb. 13 deadline for responses.
The collapse of FTX has hurt more than just the bank’s reputation. Silvergate reported a $1 billion loss last quarter and fired 40% of its staff. It also disclosed taking out billions of dollars in loans to stave off a run on deposits after Bankman-Fried’s exchange collapsed.
Despite the headwinds, shares still soared as much as 52% Thursday and closed the day up 29% as crypto stocks rode a wave of positive sentiment after the Federal Reserve signaled it would slow the pace of interest-rate hikes. The company is still the most-shorted US stock, with about 67% of shares available for trading sold short, according to data from S3 Partners.
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