San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is once again facing a class action lawsuit filed by traders, alleging there was insider trading ahead of its listing of Bitcoin Cash (BCH), the cryptocurrency created through a fork of the Bitcoin (BTC) network.
According to Finance Magnates, the lawsuit was filed against the firm in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, and sees the plaintiffs argue that the exchange “made false and deceptive statements” regarding the cryptocurrency’s listing.
Per the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege Coinbase insiders were able to start buying BCH ahead of the listing, as they knew the cryptocurrency was going to be listed on the platform, and would go through what’s known as the “Coinbase effect” – the price rise a cryptoasset sees after being listed on the exchange.
The knowledge BCH would be listed, as such, allowed insiders to accumulate and rake in significant profits when the cryptocurrency was listed. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim the exchange allowed its insiders to open positions in the cryptocurrency, and only then opened the market to the public.
The crypto’s price was then inflated, and Coinbase then promptly shut down trading for the wider public, while still letting its insiders trade. At the time, according to CryptoCompare data, BCH saw a $9,500 high on Coinbase after its price started surging, and only went back to normal after trading was re-enabled.
The price was inflated, the lawsuit implies, as Coinbase opened the market with only buy orders being available, meaning only its insiders were able to sell the cryptocurrency, at a premium.
This means some managed to sell their tokens at a high the cryptocurrency has never seen since then, even at the cryptocurrency market’s December highs. Bitcoin Cash’s current all-time high – across exchanges – was of about $4,100. At press time, it’s trading at about $256.
Coinbase can respond to the lawsuit’s allegations by December 20, and a hearing has been scheduled for January 31. The class action lawsuit comes shortly after another one, regarding the same listing process, was dismissed after a judge determined the plaintiff was unable to clarify how Coinbase could’ve done better.
As CryptoGlobe covered, Coinbase launched an investigation at the time, to determine whether any of its employees engaged in insider trading. The exchange claimed that the investigation “determined to take no disciplinary action” as it found no insider trading occurred.
Speaking to CNBC back then Roger Ver, a popular BCH-proponent, claimed he believes insider trading “is a non-crime” as trading in advance helps curb volatility and sees the price “much more closely reflect the price after the news became public.”