Stablecoin Issuer Tether Used Bank Accounts Opened With Falsified Documents in Past: WSJ

Tether, the company behind the world's largest stablecoin, accessed bank accounts by way of falsified documents and intermediaries, a new report says.

AccessTimeIconMar 3, 2023 at 8:02 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 6, 2023 at 4:47 p.m. UTC

Tether, the company behind the world's largest stablecoin, accessed bank accounts by way of falsified documents and intermediaries, a new report says.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Tether used bank accounts in the names of executives of various companies, slightly tweaking those companies' names, to maintain its access to the global financial system in 2018.

The report pointed to Crypto Capital Corp., a "shadow bank" which held Tether funds before being shut down by authorities in 2018, and others, alleging sister company Bitfinex and Tether "were able to open at least nine new bank accounts for shell companies in Asia" in October 2018.

Tether spokespeople did not immediately return requests for comment.

Paolo Ardoino, the chief technology officer of Tether, tweeted on Friday afternoon that the WSJ report contained a "ton of misinformation and inaccuracies," without giving specifics.

According to the Journal's report, Tether Holdings co-owner Stephen Moore pushed back against the use of fake sales invoices, saying, "I would not want to argue any of the above in a potential fraud/money laundering case" in an email seen by the Journal, referring to an intermediary that traded USDT in China.

The report also referenced the recording of a call with former Tether executive Phil Potter posted to YouTube in 2017 by Bitfinexed.

"We've had banking hiccups in the past, we've just – we've always been able to route around it or deal with it, open up new accounts or what have you," Potter said. "There’s been lots of sort of cat-and-mouse tricks that everyone in the bitcoin industry has to avail themselves of."

Crypto companies have traditionally had difficulties securing banking access. Tether in particular has had a number of bank accounts over the past few years, with some banks shutting down the stablecoin issuer's accounts.

The Journal report came the day after crypto-friendly bank Silvergate came under intense scrutiny for announcing it had to restate financials and would not meet a deadline to file its annual report. Major clients have suspended their ties with Silvergate, and its stock price cratered.

In recent months, federal regulators have been warning banks that their relationships with crypto may invite risk.

UPDATE (March 3, 20:08): Added tweet from Tether's Paolo Ardoino.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.