A paper released Wednesday by a professor at the University of Texas titled “Is Bitcoin Really Un-Tethered?” claims that fraudulent transactions of Tether, a digital currency pegged to the USD, were responsible for approximately 50% of the meteoric rise in Bitcoin and 64% of other top cryptocurrencies.
The research, which was published by the Professor-Graduate pair of John Griffin and Amin Shams, looked at the stream of cryptocurrencies going in and out of Bitfinex, a cryptocurrency exchange that is closely associated with Tether. What the researchers discovered was a diverse but clear sequence of transactions that worked to push up prices when they sunk at other exchanges. To achieve this, Tether was created and sold by the owners of Bitfinex, in an effort to buy up cryptocurrencies that were lagging in price.
In an interview with the New York Times, Professor Griffin emphasized that these types of transactions played a large role in last year’s massive bull run.
“There were obviously tremendous price increases last year, and this paper indicates that manipulation played a large part in those price increases.”
Griffin has a history of spotting fraud and corruption in financial markets. Most prominently, he drew media attention for a 2016 paper that suggested that a popular financial contract tied to the volatility in financial markets, known as the VIX, was being manipulated. Later, a whistleblower came forward to confirm those allegations.
Bitfinex CEO, JL van der Velde told Blockchain News, “Bitfinex nor Tether is, or has ever, engaged in any sort of market or price manipulation. Tether issuances cannot be used to prop up the price of Bitcoin or any other coin/token on Bitfinex.”