Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex must answer allegations by the state of New York that the Hong Kong-based company hid more than $800 million in losses of client and corporate funds, the New York Court of Appeals ruled Thursday (July 9), according to Bloomberg.
Companies connected to Bitfinex have been accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of the loss of commingled client and corporate funds, Bloomberg reported. The companies have insisted the cash was deposited with Crypto Capital Corp.
Investigators at the U.S. Department of Justice alleged Crypto Capital provided shadow banking services to several cryptocurrency exchanges, including Bitfinex, Binance, Cex.io, Coinapult and QuadrigaCX. The Panamanian company was indicted for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transfer service, Cointelegraph reported.
Crypto Capital President Ivan Manuel Molina Lee was arrested last year by Polish authorities on suspicion of laundering $350 million worth of funds from illegal proceeds and having ties to a global drug cartel, Cointelegraph reported. The company later collapsed.
In April of 2019, cryptocurrencies saw a double-digit percentage drop in bitcoin. On April 26, the price of bitcoin fell to $5,092, down from levels earlier that week that topped $5,580. The slide came as James accused Bitfinex of covering up missing funds through illegal transactions to the tune of $850 million.
Companies tied to Bitfinex also operate the stablecoin Tether, a conduit for trading in much of the cryptocurrency market globally, Bloomberg reported. The appeals court rejected the argument that Tether, with a market capitalization of more than $9 billion, is not a security or commodity and said the court has jurisdiction over its issuer.
The justices also rejected the companies’ argument that since they are not based in New York or serve local traders, they shouldn’t be answerable to or have to produce certain documents for New York authorities, Bloomberg reported. The court said New York traders had used Tether, and some of the companies’ staff worked in New York.
“We have read the decision issued today by the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, First Department. As we have at all times in this process, we will respect the court’s order,” said Stuart Hoegner, general counsel for Bitfinex, in an emailed statement.