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Crypto Exchange Bitfinex Says Loan at Center of Probe Repaid

Olga Kharif and Chris Dolmetsch
·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- The cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex said it repaid a remaining balance of $550 million on a loan that is at the heart of allegations of fraud made by the New York Attorney General.

The payment was made in January to Tether, which has been run by the same officials of Bitfinex, according to an emailed statement. Tether issues its own namesake coin, which serves as a conduit for trading for a majority of cryptocurrency transactions globally.

New York Attorney General Letitia James claimed in 2019 that Bitfinex hid the loss of more than $850 million of comingled client and corporate funds. Following the loss, executives at Bitfinex and Tether cooked up a series of “conflicted corporate transactions” in which Bitfinex gave itself access to up to $900 million of Tether’s cash reserves, the attorney general said.

Fabien Levy, a spokesman for James, didn’t have any comment in regard to the loan repayment.

“While the repayment of the loan, all interest due, and cancellation of the facility does not directly impact the New York Attorney General’s special proceeding, the credit facility was clearly of interest to the Attorney General’s office,” said Paolo Ardoino, Bitfinex’s chief technology officer. “We look forward to continuing our productive and constructive discussions with the Attorney General’s office.”

Bitfinex said its performance made it possible to repay the remaining balance early. Crypto exchanges have benefited from high volatility and transaction volume in the cryptocurrency markets in recent months amid Bitcoin meteoric price rise.

Traders often use the Tether stablecoin to park funds in at times of high volatility, and many consumers in China use it to enter the cryptocurrency market. Its use has exploded in recent months, with Tether’s market capitalization reaching $27.8 billion, up from $4.6 billion a year ago, according to CoinMarketCap.com.

(Adds comment from Bitfinex in the fifth paragraph.)

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