Bitfinex fires back, claims NY Attorney General lying - $850 million not lost, it was wrongfully seized!

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The story has been developing over the last 24hrs, and began with a press release and Fortune publishing the NY Attorney General's claims that Bitfinex used "illicit transactions to mask $850 million in missing funds."

Those illicit transactions, they claim, were in the form of their stablecoin 'Tether', and Bitfinex had dipped into reserves and used those funds to fill in the gaps left by the missing $850 million.

Now, Bitfinex has weighed in - clearly angered by the situation, saying the Attorney General's claims are "riddled with false assertions".

Bitfinex asserts the funds aren't missing at all, they're being withheld, stating that "these Crypto Capital amounts are not lost but have been, in fact, seized and safeguarded. We are and have been actively working to exercise our rights and remedies and get those funds released."

But why would the NY Attorney General do this? They say it's because of the recent probe into cryptocurrency exchanges being conducted by the Attorney General's office, which some say overstepped authority by demanding documents without reasonable suspicion. The probe includes all of the top exchanges, Coinbase, Gemini, bitFlyer, Bitstamp, Kraken, Bittrex, Poloniex, Binance, Tidex,, itBit, Huobi, and of course, Bitfinex, which apparently did not hand over all of the data requested.

But who is withholding this massive sum of Bitfinex's funds? They won't say, and expressed frustration that they're being targeted instead of assisted in the quest to get them returned, saying "The New York Attorney General’s office should focus its efforts on trying to aid and support our recovery efforts."

They also insist, customers have nothing to fear, promising that "Bitfinex and Tether are financially strong" and that they are "good corporate citizens and strong supporters of law enforcement."

It's hard to predict how this will end, Bitfinex has repeatedly found themselves at the center of accusations that seem to fade away, never concluding with clear proof of their innocence or guilt.

It appears they've structured their business to be deliberately difficult to track from the outside. That's brought about critics who say those are the actions of a company with dark secrets, and defenders who say it's a smart move to prevent funds being seized in the case of sudden government overreach. 

It's common practice for exchanges with international clients to have funds held around the globe, instead if having to trust all of those governments, it can be easier to trust none of them and try to keep things as under-wraps as possible.

But that's why this time is different - their defense isn't 'we don't release that information to protect funds from being seized' - they're saying 'the funds have been seized'.

This time, they can't withhold the specifics - there's no end that doesn't involve releasing the records in question, or the Attorney General's accusations proven.

Author: Mark Pippen
London News Desk

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