Bitcoin Price Manipulation Probe Probably “a Good Thing,” Says Billionaire Investor Mike Novogratz

  • Various well-known bitcoin proponents have weighed in on the DOJ's criminal probe on potential bitcoin price manipulation.
  • Mike Novogratz, Cameron Winklevoss, and Tom Lee all claimed it was a good thing to deter bad actors in the market.

Billionaire investor Mike Novogratz, along with several other major cryptocurrency proponents, has recently reacted to the US Department of Justice’s bitcoin price manipulation probe. Per the investor, it’s probably “a good thing,” and not a “bad thing for the health of the market.”

According to Bloomberg, Novogratz revealed he isn’t surprised by the probe and even welcomes it, a sentiment echoed by well-known bitcoin bull Tom Lee, and by Cameron Winklevoss, president of the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange.

Speaking to the news outlet in a telephone interview, Novogratz stated:

“Weeding out the bad actors is a good thing, not a bad thing for the health of the market. Plenty of exchanges have these inflated volume numbers to create some sense of excitement around coins.”

Mike Novogratz

Cameron Winklevoss seemingly echoed Novogratz’ sentiment, as he stated his organization welcomes “any inquiry that serves to foster rules-based marketplaces and deter bad actors.” Per Bloomberg, Fundstrat Global Advisors’ Tom Lee noted that these are good news “because this means there is adult supervision coming/here.”

As recently covered, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a criminal probe into whether traders are actively manipulating the price of various cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin. The probe is reportedly in its early stage, and is set to investigate whether reported trading volumes are accurate, and whether traders use illegal practices such as spoofing and wash trading.

After reports on the probe started surfacing, bitcoin’s price tanked. According to CryptoCompare data, the flagship cryptocurrency went from about $7,600 to $7,350 in a few hours, before it started recovering. At press time, bitcoin is trading at $7,430.

Spencer Bogart, a partner at cryptocurrency hedge fund Blockchain Capital, noted that while he wouldn’t be surprised if regulators found cases of fraud, he hasn’t found any first-hand evidence of manipulation. He said:

“I don’t have any first-hand evidence of manipulation of Bitcoin prices but given that even the most highly regulated and most liquid markets in the world (e.g. Libor, FX markets, commodities) have consistently proven to be manipulated, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise.”

Spencer Bogart

Some speculate bitcoin’s price is heavily manipulated. Last year, a blogger known as Bitfinex’ed documented the actions of “Spoofy,” a single entity the blogger claims was dominating the cryptocurrency’s price. Reportedly, Spoofy did this by issuing orders of over $1 million, and never executing them.

Joseph Saluzzi, a partner and co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading, told Bloomberg there should be cross-market surveillance to stop illegal practices. Per his words, there isn’t one regulator monitoring cryptocurrency exchanges, and as such it isn’t possible to know if spoofing is going on.

Saluzzi added that while some exchanges do share information with each other, this doesn’t ensure manipulation isn’t occurring as “exchanges are for-profit and can not be trusted to police themselves.”