Bitcoin’s astronomical surge in 2017 was possibly triggered by market whales as suggested by a Texas academic. Interestingly, a new theory is now surfacing that it was a single market whale who was responsible for causing the huge upsurge in price.
Bitfinex and Tether Responsible for 2017 Bull Run
Per claims by the University of Texas Professor, John Griffin and Ohio State University’s Amin Shams said that Bitfinex and Tether were actively involved in the 2017 bull run. Furthermore, Tether minted 2.8 billion USDT from 2017 to 2018 and used the token to “flood the Bitfinex exchange and purchase other cryptocurrencies”. Subsequently, the demand for cryptocurrencies got artificially inflated which then caused a massive surge in cryptocurrency prices. Purportedly, the largest bubble in human history was created only to burst in a month’s time drowning $450 Billion of value.
The complaint further mentions that the companies’ “liability to the putative class likely surpasses $1.4 trillion U.S. dollars”.
“Our results suggest instead of thousands of investors moving the price of Bitcoin, it’s just one large one. Years from now, people will be surprised to learn investors handed over billions to people they didn’t know and who faced little oversight.”
Griffin said in an interview.
Tether Refutes Claims of Market Manipulation
Tether has time and again rejected claims with General Counsel Stuart Hoegner that the claims lacked any substance and were based on insufficient data set. Interestingly, Bitfinex and Tether are not new to controversies. The exchange is owned and operated by the same executives who control Tether. The tangled ownership has been under the watchful eyes of the US Justice Department, who had previously accused Bitfinex in April of trying to hide losses worth millions in customer funds.
The authors examined Tether and Bitcoin transactions from March 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. They concluded that Bitcoin purchases on Bitfinex increased whenever Bitcoin’s value fell by certain increments. Griffin and Shams continue to keep the name of the entity in close wraps.
Griffin and Shams further said,
“This pattern is only present in periods following the printing of Tether, driven by a single large account holder, and not observed by other exchanges“Simulations show that these patterns are highly unlikely to be due to chance. This one large player or entity either exhibited clairvoyant market timing or exerted an extremely large price impact on Bitcoin that is not observed in aggregate flows from other smaller traders.”
In his statement, Tether’s Hoegner was adamant that the allegations laid out in the paper are a farce and have no solid ground.
“This is a transparent attempt to use the semblance of academia for a mercenary money grab. Updates or not, the paper lacks academic rigor.”
He further added,
Macroeconomic experts and stakeholders in the cryptocurrency ecosystem understand that it is the global rise of digital currency that has driven the markets and demand for Tether.”
Both Bitfinex and Tether received subpoenas in 2017 from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The Justice Department has since opened a criminal investigation into whether Tether was being used to manipulate Bitcoin. Interestingly, neither the CFTC nor federal U.S. prosecutors have accused Bitfinex or Tether of any wrongdoing.