Tether Releases Ex-FBI Director’s Law Firm Report on Its Reserves, Stops Short of an Audit

  • Tether has revealed a law firm looked into its financial situation, and claims it has money in the bank to back its USDT tokens.
  • The firm, however, just looked at the company's funds, and stopped short of an official audit.

Tether Ltd, the company behind controversial cryptocurrency Tether (USDT), that’s supposed to be pegged to the US dollar 1:1, has recently revealed it hired a law firm co-founded by former FBI director Louis Freeh to analyze its financial situation. While the firm reported Tether has enough funds to back its USDT tokens, it didn’t conduct an official audit.

According to the report, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP (FSS), the hired law firm, was given full online access to Tether’s bank accounts and financial statements, as well as to employees at the two banks in which the company allegedly has its funds.

The report reads:

Earlier this year Tether engaged Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP (FSS) to review bank account documentation and to perform a randomized inspection of the numbers of Tethers in circulation and the corresponding currency reserves

FSS report

Per the document, FSS chose June 1 to look into Tether’s financial situation. It found that in one of the banks the company has over $1.9 billion, and $576 million on the other one. In total, it reveals the company has $2.545 billion in the banks, an amount that surpassed Tether’s then circulating supply of $2.538 billion. At press time, Tether’s market cap is of $2.61 billion, according to CryptoCompare data.

Various concerned users and speculators have in the past claimed USDT tokens were backed by dollars that weren’t actually there, and that they were being created out of thin air so cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex – a company associated with Tether – could use them to pump bitcoin’s price.

Notably this isn’t Tether’s first unofficial audit, as last year accounting firm Friedman LLP analyzed its financial situation – but didn’t calm critics down. These concerns escalated, to the point the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) subpoenaed both companies in December, when bitcoin hit its all-time high, to investigate the situation.

Stuart Hoegner, Tether’s general counsel, told Bloomberg News:

The bottom line is an audit cannot be obtained… The big four firms are anathema to that level of risk… We’ve gone for what we think is the next best thing.

Stuart Hoegner

While FSS claims it is “confident that Tether’s unencumbered assets exceed the balance of fully-backed USD Tether in circulations as of June 1st, 2018,” it refused to name the banks the company is banking with due to privacy concerns as “banking relationships are private.”

The report follows a study conducted by University of Texas professor John Griffin, which suggests the stablecurrency has been used to manipulate bitcoin’s price last year. The study’s authors claim to have found a pattern between USDT issuance and the flagship cryptocurrency’s price performance.

Bitfinex’s chief executive officer, JL van der Velde, commented on the study stating:

Bitfinex nor Tether is, or has ever, engaged in any sort of market or price manipulation. Issuances cannot be used to prop up the price of Bitcoin or any other coin/token on Bitfinex.

JL van der Velde

FSS’s report includes several caveats to its findings. It notes that it isn’t an accounting firm and that it didn’t “perform the above review and confirmation using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.” Moreover, it adds that it assumed “without further inquiry” that the bank personnel who supplied it confirmation was authorized to do so, and that said confirmation was correct.

There are other stablecoins out there, although their supplies are significantly smaller than that of Tether’s. True USD’s (TUSD) supply, for example, is only of $62.8 million. Notably, the coin is traded on top exchanges like Bittrex and Binance.

Senior VP of Xapo’s Institutional Crypto Custody Business Moves to BitGo

Siamak Masnavi

On Monday (August 19), BitGo announced that Pete Najarian, who was until recently Senior Vice President for Xapo's institutional crypto custody business, is joining BitGo as the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO).

In a press release shared with CryptoGlobe, BitGo said that Najarian will be"responsible for driving the company’s global sales strategy and execution," and that he will be reporting directly to CEO Mike Belshe.

The BitGO CEO had this to say about Najarian's appointment as CRO:

Pete has a deep understanding of capital markets and an exceptional breadth of experience in financial services. This makes him a perfect partner for institutional investors who are entering the cryptocurrency market. We’re building the financial infrastructure of the future and Pete’s experience in both traditional financial markets and  cryptocurrency will be critical. I’m delighted to have him on my leadership team.

As for Najarian himself, he stated:

In my conversations with institutional investors, it’s clear that interest in cryptocurrency continues to grow, and that there is a real and significant opportunity. I’ve spent my career working with institutional investors and what impressed me about BitGo is the company’s commitment to delivering both the services and depth of client engagement that are required to build long-term partnerships with institutional investors.

Najarian arrives at BitGo with over 20 years of experience in "international finance with institutional investors." During his career, prior to working for a year and a half at Xapo, Najarian held several senior positions at Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS. He has a bachelor's degree in economics from Lafayette College, as well as an MBA from Duke University.

On August 14, crypto custody solution provider BitGo said that it was being approached by clients of rival custodian Xapo who are worried about Xapo's rumored deal with Coinbase Custody, which was formally announced on April 16.

Featured Image Courtesy of BitGo