An order enjoining cryptocurrency company Tether Ltd. and trading platform Bitfinex now has a 90-day time limit after being tightened by a New York judge, Joel Cohen, while core provisions safeguarding document requests and freezing a line of credit between the two companies were left intact.
Judge Cohen repeated comments from a preliminary hearing held last week in New York City in, ordering Bitfinex and Tether execs and employees stop loaning Tether’s reserves to Bitfinex, alongside a number of other stipulations during an ongoing investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office (NYAG).
Just for a reminder, Tether and Bitfinex have been under investigation for the fact that Bitfinex has reportedly covered up a loss of $850 million through the use of illicit funds. Both entities have said that they would fight the case, and the incident has many worrying about the stability of Tether and Bitfinex.
Judge Cohen wrote:
“The Court finds that the preliminary injunction should be tailored to address OAG’s legitimate law enforcement concerns while not unnecessarily interfering with Respondents’ legitimate business activities.
OAG asserts that the facts of this “line of credit” transaction “differed significantly from what OAG was told.”
As relevant here, the transaction which also included transfers of $625 million from Tether to Bitfinex in November 2018—allegedly left Tether with $150 million in remaining reserves that OAG suspected could be further dissipated at any time. OAG continued to question the propriety of the transaction itself, which it sees as an inherent conflict of interest between the same small cadre of Bitfinex and Tether principals.”
Bitfinex and Tether added:
“We will vigorously defend against any action by the New York attorney general’s office, and [they] remain committed, as ever, to protecting our customers, our business, and our community against their meritless claims.”
In the previous document, Tether said it sports 1-to-1 U.S. dollar reserves backing its cryptocurrency, but despite that assurance, Bitfinex has lost access to more than $850 million and used $700 million of reserves meant to back Tether to hide the loss from investors. Bitfinex and Tether share certain personnel and have overlapping ownership from iFinex, which is named in the suit.
Bitfinex moved more than $1 billion of “wrongfully co-mingled client and corporate deposits,” which included some from New York, to Panama-based Crypto Capital Corp. in 2018.
Later that year, Bitfinex and Tether executives began to speculate that Crypto Capital had stolen or lost the funds, and the filings allege the companies have yet to discover where about $850 million of those funds ended up.
Bitfinex and Tether contended that the funds were not stolen or lost, but rather partially seized by authorities and that the credit line was set up to ensure “protection of the market.” File claimed Bitfinex and Tether have “defrauded New York investors,” and outlined that her office has been unable to determine the full extent of the exposure investors in New York might have to the alleged fraud.
While this jurisdiction will allow Bitfinex and Tether to continue their business, it also requires them to turn over information regarding a loan and line of credit. Cohen’s decision further forbids Tether from loaning any assets to Bitfinex or other parties, distributing reserve funds to employees, or modifying documents subpoenaed by the NYAG.
In its announcement, Bitfinex was optimistic regarding the decision, stating:
“This order is a victory in the ongoing defence of our business against the New York Attorney General’s office.”