Remember when bitcoin struck the $20,000 mark in December of 2017? Would you believe that it was probably a single entity or individual that made that happen?
Bitcoin: Manipulated By a Single Person?
This is the news being spewed out by a recent report, which states that the bitcoin price may have been manipulated over the course of 12 months – between March 2017 and March 2018 – by a single person. During this time, the market cap of bitcoin reached a whopping $326 billion, and about half of that market cap, the report says, can be blamed on manipulation.
What’s interesting is that John Griffin – a University of Texas professor of finance – issued a report in mid-2018 explaining that bitcoin, during this period, was the subject of manipulation. However, he did not mention anything about all the power being in a single person’s hands, so while manipulation isn’t necessarily news to us, the fact that there could have just been one individual behind the wheel is.
Who could have so much power as to manipulate an entire currency by themselves? While the person’s identity hasn’t been issued yet, the report does suggest that it was a Bitfinex customer. It also reiterates what John Griffin mentions in his document in that this person potentially used Tether to do most of the dirty work.
Bitfinex – of course – is denying it had anything to do with manipulating bitcoin. Stuart Hoegner, the company’s general counsel, says that it is simply fluctuations in the global demand of bitcoin that makes it behave the way it does. He also claims that the report “lacks academic rigor.”
John Griffin, however, spoke in defense of the new report, and seems to corroborate its words. He claims that if the culprit isn’t Bitfinex itself, it’s someone that the company works “very closely with.”
While Griffin did contribute certain sections to the new document, most of the work appears to stem from Ohio State University finance professor Amin Shams, who claims that the ability to undermine or manipulate bitcoin raises serious questions about its alleged decentralized nature. He states:
The promise of a decentralized financial system was that it would be free from the influence of banks and governments. Ironically, there are large, new entities that have gained centralized control.
Trouble within the Company
At press time, both Bitfinex and Tether are being investigated by the New York attorney General’s office for alleged fraud. It is said that Bitfinex’s deals with Crypto Capital, a money transfer business, caused it to potentially lose nearly $1 billion in crypto funds, and that the company took out a Tether loan to cover its losses. Bitfinex is denying these claims.
To arrive at their data, Griffin and Shams had to examine roughly 200 gigabytes of data and the entire history of bitcoin’s transactions.