Cryptocurrency exchange OKEx has pushed back against allegations made by Hong-Kong based trading firm Amber AI over its early settlement of bitcoin cash (BCH) futures contracts last week.
Calling a Monday blog post from the firm “defamatory,” OKEx said in a statement on Tuesday that the allegations are “completely false” and have caused “serious damages” to its reputation.
The post alleges that the way OKEx had forced early settlement of bitcoin cash futures contracts at the last traded price on Nov. 14 – a day before a hard fork of the bitcoin cash blockchain that resulted in two new competing cryptos – was “indicative of outright market manipulation and one of the more serious acts of fraud in the history of limit order book trading in the cryptocurrency markets.”
Traders have reportedly claimed losses in light of the early settlement, with one fund founder telling Bloomberg that they had incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. OKEx later provided an explanation of the early delivery last week, stating that there was no trading pair with bitcoin cash with “enough market depth and trading volume to compose an index for delivery.”
In its response, OKEx said that: “The early settlement of BCH Futures Contracts was implemented based on the consideration of market integrity and customer interests.”
The exchange added that it was “confident” that the move was the “best” option available and pointed to a clause on its futures contracts user agreement stating that under certain conditions it may postpone or bring about early settlement and delivery.
As might be expected, the spat has resulted in what essentially amounts to finger-pointing following the futures settlement.
Amber AI honed in on an OKEx change to the way the futures indices were calculated on Nov. 12, saying:
“This is no different than the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) announcing that the S&P 500 E-Mini Futures will settle against the Shanghai Composite Index in the midst of trading.”
“We see this as a deliberate attempt to interfere with prices of the underlying futures contracts, amidst live trading,” the trading firm stated.
“The settlement price of OKEx’s futures contracts is constructed based on the spot index,” OKEx said. “And the BCH index constituents – BCH spot price of Coinbase, Binance, and OKEx – have already paused trading, which made it impossible to create a BCH index price for settlement. Under the circumstances, we had made the decision to perform an early settlement.”
OKEx further said Tuesday that it reserves the right to take legal action against Amber AI for “interfering” with its business and that it would disclose any evidence required in the court to prove it was “not involved in the alleged trading.”
The exchange stressed that it would “never trade against our customers and manipulate the market.”
OKEx elsewhere stated that it does not actually have any institutional client named Amber AI and that it does not serve any customer in Hong Kong “in respect of the local laws and regulations.”
“Amber AI made profit from the individual account on OKEx they claimed to have managed during the early delivery,” it said.
Refuting that claim to CoinDesk on Tuesday, Amber AI said:
“We hold multiple trading accounts on OKEx including corporate accounts of [Amber] group’s subsidiaries and individual accounts of the group’s main founders.”
Calling for OKEx to give a “proper explanation” of its actions regarding the futures settlement, Amber AI said: “The focus should be on a series of irregular activities on OKEx between Nov. 14 and Nov. 18 and how the industry should embrace regulation to avoid market manipulation and to protect investors.”
OKEx image via Shutterstock