The following transcript is taken from episode four of The Scoop, The Block’s new podcast. Listen below and subscribe to The Scoop on Apple, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Email feedback to [email protected]. This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
In this episode of The Scoop, Frank Chaparro and Larry Cermak interview Robert-Jan den Haan, an independent journalist focussed on cryptocurrencies and expert on all things Bitfinex and Tether. Robert guides Frank and Larry through the latest Bitfinex news, including the NYAG lawsuit, what may have happened their 850 million dollar reserves, and why Bitfinex in doing an IEO.
Frank Chaparro Hello. Thanks for tuning into The Scoop. The Block’s weekly podcast for crypto decision makers and thrill seekers. We have a very special episode today. It’s our first phone interview session but it’s also our first international one. I’m joined by my colleague Larry Cermak, his first time on the show he’s joining us from Frankfurt Germany and then we have Robert-Jan den Haan which I practiced adnauseum before we went online. He is also a journalist like myself, prolific writer on Bitfinex, Tether and crypto and he’s going to join us today to unpack the very interesting situation over there at that company for folks who don’t know, if you’re living under a rock or have been on holiday for over a month. Bitfinex and Tether, 850 million dollars — we don’t know if it’s seized, locked up but they basically have covered up using a line of credit from Tether, Bitfinex that that this money which was being held by Crypto Capital. Nobody knows the full situation but if anyone’s going to explain it, it’s gonna be Robert and we’re happy to have him on the show
Robert-Jan den Haan Hi. Thanks for having me.
Frank So Robert walk us through for folks, people ask me all the time, what is the latest? And it seems like every day there’s a new development that makes answering that question all the more difficult but let’s try to do it anyway. What’s the latest with Tether and Bitfinex.
Robert Well the very latest is that we know that Bitfinex is doing an initial exchange offering. They’re going to offer exchange tokens, the LEO tokens. What we know is that it’s directly tied to this 850 million that they’re missing. The white paper that was released yesterday even mentions that if the money that’s tied up with Crypto Capital is released within the next, I believe 18 months, that they hold the right to buy back 90 percent of the tokens, of the LEO tokens that they’re about to issue. So it’s really their way of getting access to funds that they’re currently missing. Although I wrote yesterday in one of the articles published at The Block that it really looks like they’re doing this initial exchange offering to eliminate this line of credit that they’re getting from Tether, drawing on the Tether reserves basically to keep its Bitfinex operations going.
Frank And that’s the big thing at the center of this New York Attorney General court order is that they co-mingled funds between the two companies? And if they can remedy that by raising this money could they be off the hook?
Robert Well I’m not I’m not a lawyer so I can’t say for sure but it will eliminate the arguments by the New York Attorney General. But at the same time this lawsuit is already going and the subpoenas have been sent out and the court has now determined two days ago, three days ago that they have to comply with the subpoenas for information which is much wider than just this line of credit. They also asked for example the compensation structure of the shareholders of Bitfinex. I don’t think it’s going to go away but it will for sure make things easier I would say.
Frank How have you been able to develop the sourcing or how have you been able to get inside this company? You were explaining to me before we jumped on how you fell down the rabbit hole a year ago, while at the same time doing university research. How were you able to become such a prolific writer on this topic
Robert This started like a year ago, back then I was also contributing to stories in other media for example with Bloomberg. I was working on an article that in the end confirmed the Noble connection to Tether that the funds were stored at Noble Bank, another already made mention of Crypto Capital because I was really looking in that angle like what is this relation there with Bitfinex? Couldn’t quite get to it at the time. We even tried with some Bloomberg correspondents in different countries to get it correct but it was very difficult to determine what was really going on. And from there on I just looked further and the only way to get further is to get sourcing and in this case we’re talking about sourcing and in terms of Bitfinex for Crypto Capital customers had to figure out where their money is going, how Crypto Capital is transferring funds how Bitfinex is processing field withdrawals and so on. Or the other way around how Crypto Capital was doing the processing. So that’s really where it started like OK we need new information to be able to tie things together and see where this money is actually going and how they’re operating this way or actually how they’re operating at all to be fair.
Frank I remember when The Block first got started and Larry had come on board this was actually where we kind of stuck our flag into the ground of crypto reporting and it was strange to me at the time I remember Larry, I’d come online at 7 a.m. Larry’d be up for five hours and he’d break this story that Bitfinex is now banking with I think it was Deltec Bank at the time and then HSBC and through Global Trading Solutions, at the time I was like why is this important? Now in hindsight we can see that the writing was on the wall and anyone who’s watched this market knows that Bitfinex has had banking problems. And that’s part of their argument, that the reason why they’re in this situation in the first place is because no one wants to bank with them.
Robert Yeah. And to be fair there is an argument to be made that it’s also true. In general cryptocurrency you still have a reputation in relation to money laundering so banks do not really want to service companies relating/working in the cryptocurrency industry still. I remember for example also in the tweet I think from Mike Dudas about a bank that refused banking for The Block because they were doing something in crypto currencies even though it’s just media. But the bigger issue here is that if you think about it, a crypto exchange, there’s a lot of money going in and going out so that puts quite a heavy burden on the compliance department of a bank and also over correspondent bank and they have to check where is this money coming from where is it going and especially since it’s from a cryptocurrency exchange then where’s this money coming from it’s not an easy question to answer. So then it becomes a cost benefit analysis like, is this really worth it? It’s a serious issue in the industry I’d say.
Frank But per your reporting, the line of credit from Tether, that was plan B. They kind of were thinking about doing this IEO for a while, right?
Robert Well, personally I think this initial exchange offering is initiated now because of this lawsuit. This is sort of the first move was made on a chessboard by the New York… Well one of the moves at least was made by the New York attorney general’s office. This is their counter move. A follow up. I’m not sure if this Tether line of credit was not necessarily I would say a plan B in that sense but they were their immediate solution to the problem. Like OK, we just don’t have dollars but we do have bank accounts with a lot of dollars sitting there. But it’s not Bitfinex’s money. It’s not even Tether’s money it’s in their accounts but it’s there to back Tether’s with tokens. I mean this is not how this money is supposed to be used.
Frank Go ahead Larry.
Larry Cermak And on top of that there is also the issue of not even signing the contract with Crypto Capital. There was one one issue that really struck me and I think Robert feels the same way is that there was no formal contract between Bitfinex and Crypto Capital.
Robert Which if you think about is just insane. If you if you read the the affidavit by Stuart Hoeger he writes that they trusted Crypto Capital with over a billion dollars I believe in just 2018 and then you have no contract in place?
Frank Let’s break down real quick for the listeners what exactly Crypto Capital was doing on behalf of Bitfinex. They’re a payments processor. My understanding is they’re kind of sitting between the folks that are making transactions with Bitfinex so that they don’t cut them off because they’re a crypto firm.
Robert That’s what they should be doing.
Frank So how does it work?
Robert As a payment processor, that’s what you should be doing just processing money –it comes in and it goes out, right? But what happened in early 2017 is that’s when Bitfinex really got into trouble with the banking. Wells Fargo was no longer willing to to operate as a corresponding bank for them and also not for Tether. That really put them in a jam because they had no way to facilitate that, fields deposits and withdrawal processing, that’s why Crypto Capital became very instrumental for them. They were already dealing with them since 2015 but now they became a way for them forward. So for one day they became the main entity processing their withdrawals and deposits but at the same time they also became a shadow bank sort of. We know this term now has also been used in an indictment recently unsealed it’s very related, I’m sure we’ll be talking about that as well. But the shadow bank idea is that they were provided with bank accounts under control of Crypto Capital but in practice they were basically allocated to Bitfinex. So one of the things that I came across was a document signed by the compliance officer of Crypto Capital and that actually spelt this type of operations out. It said that iFinex Inc. is a valued customer at our financial institution and then listing an account number and funding instructions but that funding instructions was in a Polish bank.
Frank And all of this was going on between these two firms without a contract at all, there was no…
Robert Apparently so.
Frank Apparently so, do you talk to folks in the industry about that and what that might mean? That to me sounds insane, why do you think they would do something like that?
Robert I just don’t have an answer to that. What I do know and this was sort of as a joke to me before by by a source, this person said like maybe they signed I agree with the terms of service and they just clicked it. At first it was a really nice joke but then I’ve gained some understanding of how to Crypto Capital platform works.
Frank Let’s dig into what Crypto Capital is doing right now, has anyone reached out to them, is anyone talking to them? Are their executives talking? How are they responding to all of this?
Robert Basically not. There are no words.
Frank Who are these people behind this company?
Robert That’s also a good question. Crypto Capital was incorporated in Panama and we have some names linked to that company there. The main one is known as Ivan Molina and there’s another name which we more or less know for sure that he’s connected with this, Ozzie Joseph and there are a few more names but we don’t really know where they are or even if they’re really still working on the company or not because the main issue here is that Crypto Capital as a company atleast got dissolved in June of last year. Since then the website claims that it’s being operated by a Swiss company which is called Global Trade Solutions and that’s another payment processor. It does have a license to do that. But as far as the license which have also obtained along the way it doesn’t really specify this type of shadow banking either. It’s still in a gray area of what this company is doing and whether or not that’s allowed even.
Larry What I think is also interesting to mention here is that you know a lot of legitimate exchanges actually used Crypto Capital early on. Kraken used it, I think […] a bit as well so early on it was one of the few options that would actually provide the exchanges with banking. But as banking became a little bit easier to get and banks like smaller banks in the U.S. started supporting crypto companies they kind of faded away from that and they went from Crypto Capital to smaller banks that were actually willing to bank crypto customers.
Frank Yea SilverGates is one of the big ones.
Larry Yeah exactly.
Robert For many exchanges it’s still difficult to get banking partners but if you look at the larger exchanges especially the ones that are complying with regulations and regulators — they have banking and it’s been relatively stable. There are some exceptions, […]bit had an issue not too long ago but I’m not one hundred percent sure, I might be mistaken, not […] But if you look at it there’s not really an exchange that really relies on Crypto Capital or relied on Crypto Capital the way Bitfinex did.
Frank And that’s the difference.
Robert That is the big difference. They were holding funds for them and not just customer funds. It was also their own funds according to the filing in the New York Attorney General’s lawsuit.
Frank How do you expect this all to shake out? I think Larry is under the impression that they’ll be insolvent in a couple months.
Robert I mean it’s possible but it’s like asking the Magic 8 Ball. We haven’t talked yet about this indictment by the Southern District of New York relating to Reginald Fowler and Ravid Yosef.
Frank That’s a whole different chapter in this saga.
Robert Yes. Yes for sure. But it’s 100 percent related. If you read the indictment there is a line in there, and I don’t have it right in front of me here that says that basically Fowler and the people that were associated with him or the entity associated with him failed to return money to a client basically 850 million so it’s a direct reference to Bitfinex[?]. If you also look at the press conference related to the indictment it says Fowler had an account at Bank One which we know is HSBC and failed to return money to Exchange One which we now know is Bitfinex. But really, this one line does a lot of work to say Fowler is not alone in this. There is more people involved, probably not in the US and we could speculate on where they are but this is not over.
Larry Just to just clarify my position I do not think that they’ll be insolvent soon. I think that they could be but don’t get me wrong, this could take from months to years. It’s by no means going to be immediate. What I do think is that the chance of them going insolvent, the chance of them getting seriously affected by the regulators is now the highest it’s ever been. And they will be under a microscope right now, so that’s why I am skeptical and I think there’s more to follow.
Robert I’m 100 percent gonna agree that there’s more to follow and they will for sure be under a magnifying glass. Whether or not that will result in anything at least publicly for a while it might be that it will take a very long while. For sure it is, on the 50 million it’s gonna take a while before that’s released if the full amount is returned basically but it might be that there is a a portion or even a large portion that’s not going to be returned to Bitfinex.
Larry What I’m also curious about is and this is a question for Robert. Why do you think that the U.S. regulators have been the most active in this case? The company, it’s not based in the US and it doesn’t really even serve U.S. customers. Why aren’t other regulators getting involved like regulators in Hong Kong, regulators somewhere else?
Robert Yeah. So why why others are not involved? I cannot really answer. I don’t have a good answer for that. I mean for sure it might be but I’m really speculating here is that having business somewhere is good so why disturb the business? It raises taxes, it raises money for the government but that’s just pure speculation. What I would like to talk about more is why are the U.S. authorities stepping in here? In my opinion there’s atleast two reasons, one the New York State is taking the lead in relation to cryptocurrency regulations, it also inquired I think 13 exchanges last year with a big questionaire of getting information like who are you serving? How are you handling things? So that’s one. The other one is that if you read the New York attorney general’s lawsuit then it shows that Bitfinex learned of an investigation in New York and they then contacted the office. We don’t know how much but this Fowler indictment relating to an American company Global Trad-ing Solutions and not the same as the Swiss one — it’s Trading versus Trade. That’s an American company and we know that the accounts were seized from the indictment […] and Bitfinex may contact in November. So if you follow the timeline then, well for one they must have known that this account that they used in name of or in control of Mr. Fowler had been seized and since they contacted U.S. authorities it might have been just initially that this connection or just that they were starting to talk to each other was initiated back then. How that relates to the office actually investigating Bitfinex and Tether itself, that I’m not one hundred percent sure on.
Frank One thing that’s interesting to me and we haven’t brought it up but the fact that iFinex finally revealed that only 74 percent of these tethers had one to one dollar backing. The market cap I mean it’s taken a small hit but it’s still being very widely used especially in Asia. Some stable coins have picked up some market share. This is like the basic thing, right? This is what a one to one dollar pegged stable coin is supposed to do is be backed by dollars in the bank. For a long time it was speculated that that wasn’t the case for Tether. We actually find out that that’s not the case, Bitfinex says it’s not the case and still most of the people I talked to and most of the larger trading firms especially in Asia are still trading with this thing. What’s the deal behind that?
Robert What is really the alternative though? Especially if you’re trading in Asia, if you want to have access to dollars or something how do you get it? Is there a good alternative? That’s I think at least one main reason then there are probably a lot of different other reasons like is it very easy for people to get out of Tether because you need to now redeem it with Tether and I don’t know how many people or companies that can actually do that. But I think it’s quite limited. And then if arbitrage is traded between exchanges it can make money if there is a larger spread. There is all kinds of minor reasons that might be the case but I would be speculating beyond that.
Larry Yeah I think it’s definitely interesting. If we look at the premiums I think that’s very indicative of the market right now. There is that other premium which hasn’t really gone to much larger than 2 percent. And right now I think it’s actually below 1 percent. So that means that the market is actually fairly confident in Tether at the moment. The larger premium is the Bitfinex premium which is a premium on USD on Bitfinex and this has been the first week after everything started happening that has been over 6 percent. Now that’s fallen to about I think three point five to four percent. What that means is that basically people are… they think that it’s more risky to store money on Bitfinex than it is to just store Tethers so the premium on Bitfinex basically means that the traders would much rather hold anything else than USD on bitcoin because they don’t trust it. They would much rather go from USD to bitcoin for example, which then creates a higher price of bitcoin and pushes the premium up because they’re not confident that they can get USD out of Bitfinex. The withdrawals take a long time because a lot of uncertainty, they would much rather converge to a different cryptocurrency like bitcoin or Ethereum and then send it to a different exchange or wallet. So that’s kind of causing the premium and what that tells us is that traders are viewing the risk of Bitfinex higher than they’re viewing the risk of Tether
Robert And if you think about it in Bitfinex late last year, I’m thinking that this is like October/November. They had a lot of problems processing withdrawals right. There were huge delays, people were not receiving their money and from the sourcing that I have I can confirm that indeed people did not receive their money. If you look at it back then Bitfinex had a premium but Tether also had a premium. But then back then the USD and Tether were still linked one to one on Bitfinex. So I think they separated in November If I’m not mistaken, that they reopened Tether redemptions directly from Tether. So you see the same type of reaction in that case and the premium right now is similar to what it was back then like the 3 4 percent.
Frank Do you guys see any opening? I know Larry has an obsession with stable coins. Robert you’re obviously as close to an expert as anyone can get. What is it going to take for a competitor to move in? I’m surprised no one’s leaning in on this. You know Paxos, Gemini dollar, TrueUSD to take advantage of their floundering or is the market share just too big?
Robert I think the latter, the market share is just huge. What is the volume of Tether now, I’m not 100 hundred percent sure of it. If you look at it it’s just such a large part of the whole ecosystem.
Larry I also think what you’re forgetting is that all of these other options that you mentioned, they’re mostly regulated stable coin. That means that there is some sort of requirements that they have, for example they have to freeze the money at some point if there’s a risky transaction or if something is flat. Really, one of the biggest advantages of Tether is that there is very lenient KYC which means that it doesn’t really get frozen. A lot of traders would prefer that because if there is an issue that pops up that Gemini dollar or Paxos which has happened before, the money gets frozen. And it takes from days to weeks to resolve that issue. Some traders would just prefer the certainty of having a stable coin that has a little bit more lenient KYC and then there is more reassurance that you actually get to trade the money without any problems.
Frank Yeah and that’s an interesting point. Robert step in if I’m wrong on this but my understanding of the New York attorney general’s report is the fact that they’re not trying to say to Bitfinex, Alright you guys have your lenient KYC, allowing traders from different parts of the world to engage with your exchange and with your stable coin. They don’t want to get involved in that. They’re perfectly fine. It’s simply the fact of this line of credit, the commingling of funds and that New York market participants were on the platform and using Tether. That’s the issue. They don’t, if they’re engaging with other parts of the world. New York A.G.’s Office isn’t going to care and it kind of goes back to Larry’s point about why aren’t other regulators paying attention to this and maybe they will maybe they won’t.
Robert The New York state attorney general’s office, they say they have jurisdiction because according to their information they’re also New York based traders that have money on Bitfinex or with Tether either of the two and so therefore they’re stepping in now and they’re saying hey stop drawing from this line of credit. So in the second part, why do other regulators not step in? I’m still, I’m a bit puzzled as well but it could be that they’re already looking into this and we haven’t seen it go public yet. Or it could be that this lawsuit will now initiate some kind of action.
Frank Do you think other regulators are going to step in Larry?
Larry Honestly I’m puzzled as well, I’m not sure why they haven’t yet. I think they could though. And then like Robert said they’ll certainly be paying more attention now. I think when people say that this lawsuit that said it’s just this, I really don’t believe so, it’s just opening up a huge can of worms. And now there’ll be much more supervision and everyone will just be paying much more attention. What Tether actually used to do before is that they, whenever there was criticism they would say oh this is just a conspiracy theory we’re 100 percent backed. Now that argument is no longer that easy to make when we know that they’re not. It’s not as easy to discard the criticism anymore.
Robert Yeah and if you think about it they only changed their policy or their terms of service that all the Tether tokens would be backed by one dollar a few days before their line of credit closed. But by then they had already transferred like three or four months before that they had already transferred the dollar from Tether to Bitfinex. So the argument that they will make here is that well the the dollars were still there. They were just in Tether’s account at Crypto Capital which we know they could not access. This becomes sort of an argument like yeah in the books the dollars were there but in practice they were not. That’s sort of where you end up on that part.
Frank I think that with any sort of blockbuster, whether it’s a hack or a lawsuit there are going to be multitude myriad of bad takes out there in response to the news. This one can go to Larry as well and then you Robert of course. What’s the worst take that you’ve seen out of this whole debacle and these shenanigans?
Larry I really thought, I’m not going to point out anything specific, no names no names. But what I found really funny was how people compare the fractional banking to Tether and rationalize that everything is OK because the banks only have 10 percent of cash reserves at hand. Tether has 74 percent so therefore it’s so much better because they have more money, they have more backing. That to me is completely ridiculous because fractional banking of course happens, it’s disclosed, it’s regulated. Everyone knows about it. The issue with Tether was that they clearly lied about being backed 100 percent and then when they changed it and now everyone thinks that’s fine as well. That was one of the worst takes when people just compare that to traditional banking and fractional banking.
Robert I’m gonna side with Larry on this one because that was the immediate thing I thought of as well. And the funny thing is that in response to the lawsuit by The New York attorney general’s office, the counsel for Bitfinex and Tether made the same argument like hey we still have 74 percent. The funny thing about that is that the judge basically in response to that said I see your arguments and it makes sense to me but at the same time you’re not regulated. You’re not a bank. The judge slapped it down — the fractional reserve argument in a few sentences.
Frank That was interesting. What else guys, what should we hit?
Robert We haven’t talked yet about Reginald Fowler and how that’s related.
Frank Yes. Let’s dive into that. We’ll try to transition this so it makes sense. I remember when… what was it, was he on the Minnesota Vikings? He worked for the Minnesota Vikings?
Larry He was a co-owner owner, a minority owner
Robert Yeah. He tried to become the majority owner but that failed and then he became a minority.
Frank And so he’s involved in this because he he was an employee of Crypto Capital?
Robert Well no, he is associated with Crypto Capital, as far as we know he is not employed by Crypto Capital or anything. He came on the scene in February of 2018. That’s when he incorporated this global trading solutions LLC which is a Colorado based company. If you look at the bank accounts that were listed on Bitfinex they’re deposits addressed for fiat from May to October listed various accounts in control of that company. You can also see it in the reporting that this was for example Citibank Bank called an Enterprise Bank and Trust which is a smaller bank than HSBC for example, the one that Larry reported on later last year. That’s one side of it. But at the same time in our reporting we also obtained some wire details and then we saw that people were receiving money in early 2018 so around the same time this founder incorporated the American company from companies in Portugal. Then we started looking at these companies in the public registry all of a sudden you find the same name, Reginald Fowler. It looks like he came onto the scene around then and contributed to how Crypto Capital was operating. Whether or not this is really a part of it or that it was, to me this American company’s been described as an agent of Crypto Capital so what that would exactly mean is not one hundred percent clear to me. I would expect some kind of surface level agreement between them in that case but it’s for sure one hundred percent linked to what they were doing. As far as I know it was only operating with Crypto Capital on this.
Frank What’s going to happen to this guy?
Robert Well he’s charged with bank fraud, conspiracy to do so running an unlicensed money transmitting service and the conspiracy to do so. I believe already on the bank fraud it’s a maximum of 30 year sentence.
Frank He’s wrecked
Robert Pretty much, pretty wrecked and probably won’t get thirty years though at least not on the single charge. I don’t know how that will end up, I’m not a lawyer. If he provides some kind of relevant information there might be a reduced sentence. We know from the indictment that there are people associated with him which so far are still on the loose and the co-conspirator is at large, Ravid Yosef for example.
Frank She’s actually right here a special guest appearance. Could you imagine that would be… exciting.
Robert I would have some questions.
Frank What would your questions be?
Robert First of all what’s your brother’s name? Because we have a very strong suggestion that she’s the sister of […] Yosef which would be the […] that’s also mentioned in the New York Attorney General’s Office documents or we’re fairly sure because there are chat logs between Bitfinex and Crypto Capital executives and the Crypto Capital executive makes reference to […]. That would be the first question probably but the next I would really be interested in would be what were you doing? Apparently you are a relationship coach? What are you doing in relation to bank fraud?
Frank Why would you ask Larry?
Larry It’s pretty funny if you actually search for her website she has a lot of videos about coaching about relationships and then you find out that she’s basically been laundering money. It makes you sort of question that profession, right? Like how many of people like that actually are doing that. How do you even get involved?
Frank It makes you question whether or not she was doing a good job of giving relationship advice. Some people can take whatever they can get like yours truly.
Robert Maybe money laundering is a good couples counseling?
Frank Yeah. Yeah.
Robert In all seriousness it’s it’s just odd. It’s weird.
Frank Going back to to you personally Robert, what’s next? What is the next scoop you’re hunting? Peel back the onion for us and let us into your world. What are you digging into?What’s on your desk?
Robert So on this topic mostly if you look at the money, the 850 million dollars, one of the things that really started this were these rumors. There were rumors that money had been seized in relation to Bitfinex, this came out I think in April last year, over a year ago. One of the things I started looking at back then: could it be true or not? How can we prove this or disprove? I go into it as an investigative journalist to see if it’s true. I had a theory at the time that it happened earlier in January, this seizure of money and that was based on a few things like issues with the withdrawals at Bitfinex, there were delays and they suddenly changed to an […] which made some customers very furious. Then they switched back to Crypto Capital accounts like 10 days later. But the […] goes as far as we know was not linked to Crypto Capital or not operated by them. That was an odd move only for 10 days to have sort of a bridge measure, why would you do that? Maybe that there is an account that no longer functions all of a sudden. That started the question for me it’s like OK if this is true how can I prove it but also if there’s money seized how much of it is actually related to Bitfinex? Is it their money? Is it their customers money? Especially that’s the relevant question now. Going forward, the question for me mostly, where is the money? Follow the money is always a good question for a journalist
Frank Follow the money. That’s your that’s your tip.
Robert Yeah. Money. And wire details, money trails don’t lie. If it’s in black and white then then you can follow up
Frank Gotcha, well I think that’s a great place to start winding things down. We appreciate you coming on Robert
Larry Actually I have one more question for Robert. Let’s say that this IEO works and they recover the money and eventually the money gets unfrozen and they start functioning again? What’s the pressure now to actually provide them with banking knowing what happened? Is there a scenario where they actually recover the money and can establish a functional banking relationship after all this happened?
Robert That’s a tricky question to ask. Well logically you would say no, right? First of all, will they get all the money back? We’ll have to see. We know that some of it has been seized. We also have indication that some of it is at least out of reach from authorities, also out of reach from Bitfinex. So that’s one, then to establish banking. Well for sure it’s not going to help them obviously but whether or not it will stop them from getting it at all? We might end up with a situation. OK. Let’s take one step back sorry. If you look at the situation now they have all the incentive in the world to get this 850 million back, right? I don’t know if there are skeletons in the closet that they do not want to disclose to authorities, that’s why they might not be complying with subpoenas but they have every incentive to cooperate in order to get this money back and get it unfrozen. Maybe they will change their approach, become a little bit more transparent, become more cooperating with regulators and it might work out. In general I would say this is not going to help them achieve a stable banking relationship going forward. No.
Frank Any other questions Larry?
Larry I think that’s it for me.
Robert That’s great. Robert thank you so much for coming on and good luck hunting for new scoops out there out of Bitfinex and Tether and we hope it will find its way onto our site at theblockcrypto.com. Thanks everyone.
Robert Thanks Frank.