Nearly $109M in Yotta customer deposits vanish

on Jun23
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Ledgers of the failed fintech middleman Synapse show that nearly all the deposits held for customers of the banking app Yotta went missing weeks ago, according to one of the lenders involved.

A network of eight banks held $109 million in deposits for Yotta customers as of April 11, Evolve Bank & Trust said in a bankruptcy court letter filed late Thursday.

About one month later, the ledger showed just $1.4 million in Yotta funds held at one of the banks, Evolve said. It added that neither customers nor Evolve received funds in that time period.

“These irregularities in Synapse’s ledgering of Yotta end user funds are just one example of the many discrepancies that Evolve has observed,” the bank said. “A detailed investigation of what happened to these funds, or alternatively, why the Synapse-provided ledger reflected money movement that did not actually occur, must be undertaken.”

Evolve, one of the key players in a deepening predicament that has left more than 100,000 fintech customers locked out of their bank accounts since May 11, has been attempting to piece together with other banks a record of who is owed what. Its former partner Synapse, which connected customer-facing fintech apps to FDIC-backed banks, filed for bankruptcy in April amid disputes about customer balances.

But Evolve itself was reprimanded by the Federal Reserve last week for failing to properly manage its fintech partnerships. The regulator noted that Evolve “engaged in unsafe and unsound banking practices” and forced the bank to improve oversight of its fintech program. The Fed said the enforcement action was separate from the Synapse bankruptcy.

Yotta CEO and co-founder Adam Moelis said in response to this article that Synapse has said in court filings that Evolve held nearly all Yotta customers deposits. Evolve and Synapse disagree over who holds the funds and who is responsible for the frozen accounts.

“According to the Synapse trial balance report provided on May 17, there are $112 million of customer funds held at Evolve,” Moelis said.

Evolve, which is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee-based, had this statement late Friday:

“We believe that a meticulous forensic accounting investigation will reveal that these purported funds are not, and were not, in Evolve’s possession, contrary to Synapse’s claims,” a spokesman told CNBC. “Evolve will continue cooperating with the Trustee and other banks to perform reconciliation and determine the most appropriate path forward for any funds actually held at Evolve.”

The bank has been trying to separate itself from Synapse since late 2022 because of ledger problems it has found, the Evolve spokesman said.

Unclear timeline

Despite mounting pressure on the banks involved to unfreeze all the locked accounts, the messy records and a dearth of funds to pay for an outside forensic analysis has created uncertainty over when that will happen.

Evolve maintains that because of discrepancies in the ledgers, it is hesitant to allow payments to be made to many customers until a full reconciliation of the mismatched ledgers is complete, in particular related to a group of banks used in the Synapse brokerage program.

Synapse moved most of the fintech customer funds held at Evolve to a group of banks affiliated with its brokerage program in late 2023, Evolve has said in court filings.

Last week, the court-appointed trustee, former FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams, noted that a “full reconciliation to the last dollar with the Synapse ledger” may not be possible.

Even the total shortfall in funds owed to all impacted depositors isn’t known. Earlier this month, McWilliams pegged the amount at $85 million; but in subsequent reports stated that it was between $65 million and $96 million.

Pleading with regulators

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