Bitfinex and Tether are again in the limelight as two US academics are claiming that a single Bitcoin whale was responsible for the digital currency’s astronomical price surge in 2017.
The revelation came from the same two researchers – John Griffin, a professor at the University of Texas and Amin Shams, an assistant professor at Ohio State University – who last year in a research paper claimed that the spike in prices of Bitcoin was the result of market manipulation.
Reported by Bloomberg on Monday, for a peer-reviewed paper, the two academics studied all the transactions of Bitcoin and Tether from March 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018.
The researchers concluded that Bitcoin purchases on the exchange dramatically increased when the price of the digital asset fell under a threshold, and the transactions were made using Tether.
“Our results suggest instead of thousands of investors moving the price of Bitcoin, it’s just one large one,” Griffin told Bloomberg. ”Years from now, people will be surprised to learn investors handed over billions to people they didn’t know and who faced little oversight.”
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The researchers, however, did not name the suspecting party involved in the price manipulation.
Tether’s general counsel Stuart Hoegner, however, refuted that all the claims, calling the research “foundationally flawed.” He also questioned the data sets used to support the claims.
“This is a transparent attempt to use the semblance of academia for a mercenary money grab,” Hoegner told the publication. “Updates or not, the paper lacks academic rigor.”
Both Bitfinex and Tether are not new to controversies. Though charged by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the US Justice Department in 2017 for its use in market manipulation, Tether was acquitted at last.
However, earlier this year, the New York Attorney General dragged both companies to court, alleging Bitfinex for covering up a loss of $850 million by taking a loan from Tether. The case is still on-going and with a tussle going on between the prosecutor and the defendant.