The New York attorney general’s office settled Tuesday a nearly two-year investigation into the finances and corporate practices of the companies that operate the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange and the stablecoin tether.
Hong Kong-based iFinex Inc., which operates the Bitfinex exchange, and Tether Ltd. agreed to pay $18.5 million to the attorney general’s office. Additionally, Tether agreed to publicly release quarterly statements detailing its reserves.
The attorney general’s office said the companies made several public misrepresentations, regarding the dollar reserves backing for tether in 2017 and a situation in 2018 when Bitfinex lost access to about $850 million of its customers’ funds that it had placed with an outside company.
When Bitfinex lost those customer funds, it borrowed money from the tether reserves to cover the loss, something it didn’t disclose publicly. That money has since been paid back, though Bitfinex is still trying to recover the original $850 million.
The settlement ends a long-running saga that had been keenly followed in the crypto industry. Both Bitfinex and tether are key cogs in the trading markets. If the attorney general’s office had charged them criminally, it could have had ramifications for the market as a whole.