Noble Bank International, a leading Puerto Rican financial services firm whose clients have included the controversial cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex and USDT issuer Tether, is reportedly looking for a buyer.
According to a report published by Bloomberg, the bank lost most of its customers including Bitfinex and Tether, and is now no longer profitable. The report cites anonymous sources, that claim the bank can sell for a price between $5 million and $10 million, based on the value of its Puerto Rican license to operate as an international financial entity.
Noble Bank became known in the cryptocurrency space earlier this year, after it was revealed it was working with Bitfinex and Tether, two organizations that share the same management and had been dumped by Wells Fargo last year.
Both cryptocurrency businesses have, in December of last year, been subpoenaed by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), as the regulator is looking into whether Tether indeed has $2.7 billion to back up its USDT in circulation.
As CryptoGlobe covered, some critics claim it doesn’t, and that new USDT tokens are issued out of thin air to manipulate bitcoin’s price. A study conducted by University of Texas professor John Griffin has suggested the tokens were used to pump BTC.
An analysis published by Bloomberg in July of this year highlighted what appeared to be unusual trading patterns in the stablecoin on the Kraken cryptocurrency exchange. The exchange fought back against the analysis’ findings.
In an attempt to answer the controversy surrounding it, Tether released an analysis of its bank accounts made by the law firm of a former FBI director in June. While the report claimed it had the adequate dollar reserves, it wasn’t a proper public audit. This saw critics press the issue and use the analysis to further claim Bitfinex and Tether are fraudulently pumping BTC.
Curiously, a researcher from the University of Queensland Business School found there was no evidence pointing to Tether issuances leading to BTC price rises. Nevertheless, even Noble itself faced an audit from Puerto Rico’s main bank regulator last year. The audit, according to Bloomberg’s sources, raised concerns.
Noble Bank’s Situation
Per Bloomberg, Puerto Rico has seen a surge of cash related to cryptocurrencies, as by the end of last year international financial entities held cash and equivalents worth up to $3.3 billion, up from $191 million a year earlier.
As of June 30 of this year, the total dropped to $2.6 billion. Noble , on its website, claims to have used Bank of New York Mellon as its custodian, although BNY Mellon no longer has a business relationship with Noble.
The news outlet further points out Noble, as an international financial entity, must report suspicious activity and help US government agencies prevent money laundering, although accounts tied to “non-Americans can remain anonymous if the assets are held through offshore companies or trusts.” Bitfinex itself may be shielded, as its registered on the British Virgin Islands.