Crypto market maker B2C2 has come under fire in a New Jersey court for dismissing an employee who alleged the now former co-CEO took drugs, drank excessively, sexually harassed and coerced an intern at a flagship conference.
Brad Nagela, former head of operations and managing director at B2C2, filed a whistle blower lawsuit for retaliation, claiming he was let go after telling his supervisors about former co-CEO and chairman Phillip Gillespie’s antics at Bitcoin Miami 2022.
The supervisors were named in the documents, lodged earlier this month, as former co-CEO Robert Catalanello and current CEO Nicola White.
The filings allege Gillespie was “publicly observed drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and taking cocaine and hallucinogens.” They also allege Gillespie gifted and distributed cocaine and hallucinogens to others, including a 19-year-old intern, whom Gillespie had flown in from Thailand.
“It was mentioned that at one point during the evening, Mr. Gillespie’s face was so covered with cocaine residue that he resembled the fictional main character, Tony Montana, from the movie, Scarface,” the filing claims.
The lawsuit adds that Nagela “alleged sexual harassment and gender discrimination on behalf of the 19-year-old female intern,” following “unwanted and unwelcome” attention.
A spokesperson for B2C2 said that Nagela’s employment was terminated in September 2022 following a period of “significant underperformance” as global head of options trading – Americas.
“The company will produce detailed evidence to demonstrate this in court, but we’re unable to comment further whilst the matter is subject to court proceedings,” they added.
Gillespie denies having ever met Nagela in person, with interactions limited to a few video calls.
“He was also not in attendance at the conference in question,” he said in an emailed statement. “My understanding is that he was let go for underperformance last year during company restructuring, which I am confident B2C2 can demonstrate in court.”
The intern denied allegations about her relationship with Gillespie, and took issue with the claims which painted “a certain image regarding the narrative of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.”
“This whole situation has been extremely difficult for me,” she said. “B2C2 was an opportunity for me to grow my professional career and I am deeply saddened that this has now turned into personal attacks against Phil and B2C2.”
If upheld, damages could exceed $75,000 (£60,400) as Nagela seeks back pay, compensation and punitive damages as well as legal costs.
Gillespie left the firm in November 2022 and joined algorithmic trading hedge fund AWR Capital in January. Catalanello has also left the firm.
B2C2 pulled its operations from the UK last year after withdrawing an application for the FCA’s cryptoasset register. It shifted its spot trading operations to a US entity instead.