Following the recent announcement that Tether received a subpoena from the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission on the 6th of December, it has become apparent that over one-third of the total supply of Tether was created after the date of the subpoena’s delivery.
Supply of USDT Increases Significantly Following December 6th Subpoena
Earlier this week, it was reported that Bitfinex and Tether had been sent subpoenas by the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on December 6th, 2017. Although further details pertaining to the subpoenas have not surfaced, the dramatic explosion in the number of USDT in circulation witnessed last year despite Bitfinex and Tether’s loss of banking partners in March has long called into question the integrity and transparency of both companies.
From February 2017, the number of USDT in circulation has grown by nearly 9,000%, rising from approximately $25 million USD at the start of February last year to more than $2.25 billion at the end of January 2018 according to Coinmarketcap. Since receiving the subpoena, Tether increased the number of USDT by 775 million, comprising a 52.5% increase in the total supply from December 6th, 2017. As such, approximately 34.5% of all USDT created were produced after Tether had received the subpoena from the CFTC.
Suspicions Grow Surrounding Bitfinex and Tether’s Operations
Widespread speculation has attributed the ramping up of USDT issuance to a last ditch attempt by Tether and Bitfinex to manipulate the BTC markets in light of the subpoena. Many sources have argued that much of the Tether created since December 6th may have been produced without USD backing, and then traded on exchanges to drive the price to record highs before the subpoena’s existence could be revealed.
Accusations of insider trading have consistently hounded Bitfinex throughout its lifespan. In early 2013 an apparently disgruntled former Bitfinex employee leaked an email correspondence between himself and the former CEO of Bitfinex, Raphael Nicolle. In the email, the employee alleges that the trading account for Bitfinex’s current Chief Financial Officer, Giancarlo Devasini, “was credited one million dollars, money that he didn’t have deposited in his account.”
The statement issued by Bitfinex and Tether regarding the CFTC subpoena claims “We routinely receive legal process from law enforcement agents and regulators conducting investigations. It is our policy not to comment on any such requests.”
Expanding Mandate of the CFTC
News of the subpoena broke just days after Jay Clayton, the chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, and J. Christopher Giancarlo, the chairman of the CFTC, co-authored an open letter discussing their outlook on the role of the regulatory institutions with regard to the cryptocurrency markets.
In the letter, it is asserted that following the launch of CBOE and CME’s respective bitcoin futures markets, the CFTC “gained oversight over the U.S. bitcoin futures market and access to data that can facilitate the detection and pursuit of bad actors in underlying spot markets.”
What is your opinion on the controversy surrounding the operations of Bitfinex and Tether? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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