Bitfinex Accused of $850 million ‘Cover-up’ by New York Attorney General

Bitfinex, a leading cryptocurrency exchange and its affiliated stablecoin provider Tether are being sued by the New York State Attorney General (NYSAG). Bitfinex was accused of losing $850 million and then using funds from Tether to cover-up the loss.

According to a press release issued Thursday (April 25) Attorney General Letitia James has obtained a court order to stop iFinex Inc the company controlling both Bitfinex and Tether from operating in New York. The OAG said that an investigation is ongoing and seeks to identify “fraud being carried out by Bitfinex and Tether”.

In the court order Attorney General James stated:

Our investigation has determined that the operators of the ‘Bitfinex’ trading platform, who also control the ‘tether’ virtual currency, have engaged in a cover-up to hide the apparent loss of $850 million dollars of co-mingled client and corporate funds

The New York Attorney General’s office stated that they have reason to suspect that New York traders are still using the exchange, despite Bitfinex saying in 2018 it would no longer serve these residents.

Bitfinex's struggle to retain a suitable banking partner in the past year has been well publicized. The lawsuit alleged that the company partnered with Crypto Capital Corp., a Panama based payments provider. Furthermore, the OAG alleged that no contract was signed, despite the huge sums of money entrusted to Crypto Capital Corp.

Bitcoin Price Falls 5%

CryptoCompare’s latest exchange review revealed that Tether accounted for over 80% of Bitcoin trading, up from 70% in February. The market's dependence on Tether has been a cause of concern for many in the industry and may well explain the significant impact on Bitcoin's price, which has fallen over 5% in under an hour.

Despite the launch of several new stablecoins in the last year, Tether's dominance has not been challenged, and the leading stablecoin still accounts for 98.7% of Bitcoin’s trading volume against four top stablecoins – USDT, USDC, PAX, and TUSD. It remains to be seen whether this court order will deter the market from using Tether as its stablecoin of choice.

UPDATE: Bitfinex's Response

Around 02:50 UTC on Friday (April 26), sent out a tweet that linked to the following announcement, which was published on its website:

"Earlier today, the New York Attorney General’s office released an order it obtained – without notice or a hearing – in an attempt to compel Bitfinex and Tether to provide certain documents and seeking certain injunctive relief.

The New York Attorney General’s court filings were written in bad faith and are riddled with false assertions, including as to a purported $850 million “loss” at Crypto Capital. On the contrary, we have been informed that these Crypto Capital amounts are not lost but have been, in fact, seized and safeguarded. We are and have been actively working to exercise our rights and remedies and get those funds released. Sadly, the New York Attorney General’s office seems to be intent on undermining those efforts to the detriment of our customers.

Bitfinex and Tether have been fully cooperative with the New York Attorney General’s office, as both companies are with all regulators. The New York Attorney General’s office should focus its efforts on trying to aid and support our recovery efforts.

Both Bitfinex and Tether are financially strong – full stop. And both Bitfinex and Tether are committed to fighting this gross overreach by the New York Attorney General’s office against companies that are good corporate citizens and strong supporters of law enforcement. Bitfinex and Tether will vigorously challenge this, and any and all other actions, by the New York Attorney General’s office."

PayPal is Cautiously Optimistic About Partnership with Libra Association

  • PayPal cautious about future with Facebook's digital currency libra. 
  • Payment platform was one of the first companies to join and support the Libra Association.

Payment platform PayPal is cautiously optimistic about its relationship with Facebook’s digital currency libra, despite being the highest-profile company to join the Libra Association. 

PayPal Backs Libra Association

In June, shortly after the official unveiling of Facebook’s libra, PayPal announced an intention to join and support the Libra Association, a collection of tech and finance companies promoting the product. 

At the time, PayPal billed the digital currency as a revolutionary product for people around the world, 

We believe in democratizing participation in the digital economy for people from all walks of life, and businesses of all sizes.

However, PayPal appears cautious about its future with Facebook’s digital currency. PayPal investor relations vice president Gabrielle Rabinovitch reiterated Sept. 12 that the company is a non-binding agreement with libra, 

It's a non-binding commitment. And obviously, I think there's a lot of work to happen before we get to that point where it becomes something more than just a very exciting idea.

She added, 

The goals and ambitions of Libra are very consistent with PayPal's overall ambitions in terms of serving the underserved; democratizing access to capital. So we very much believe in the potential of Libra.

While PayPal appears optimistic about the future of libra, the digital currency has endured months of regulatory and political scrutiny concerning its release. 

Earlier in the week, senior U.S. Treasury official Sigal Mandelker told an audience in Geneva that libra would be held to the highest standard of regulatory compliance in order to combat money laundering and terrorist funding.

 

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com