By Josiah Wilmoth
Dutch banking firm ING Groep NV confirmed Tuesday that cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex is listed as one of its clients, the first evidence that the firm had an active banking relationship since Wells Fargo suspended its account nearly a year ago.
ING Confirms Banking Relationship with Cryptocurrency Exchange Bitfinex
ING spokesman Harold Reusken confirmed the banking relationship in an interview with Bloomberg. His comments provided little other information aside from stressing that the bank conducts considerable due diligence when considering whether to service firms that facilitate cryptocurrency trading.
“With companies that are active in the crypto market we are very reserved,” Reusken said in an email. “Not with companies that are in traditional markets and receive or do payments with cryptocurrencies, but with parties that are in the chain of cryptocurrencies.”
But though ING’s statement was scant on details, it provided the first public confirmation since Wells Fargo suspended Bitfinex’s account in March 2017 that the firm — one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges as measured by daily trading volume — had found a major international firm willing to provide it with traditional financial services.
Bitfinex, Tether, and the Missing USDT Audit
Bitfinex’s reluctance to discuss its banking relationships publicly had added fuel to unproven rumors of the firm’s insolvency, which critics allege is being hidden through the fractional-reserve printing of tether tokens (USDT), a cryptocurrency purportedly backed by dollars at a 1:1 ratio.
Tether, which has close ties to Bitfinex and shares many of the same executives, has been similarly-opaque in disclosing its financial relationships, and it has failed to produce a third-party audit verifying its balance sheet, even as USDT’s market cap has swelled to more than $2.2 billion. The company had hired an auditor, Friedman LLP, but the two firms parted ways last month before the audit had been completed and a report could be published.
As Strategic Coin reported, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has also been probing Bitfinex and Tether, with reports emerging recently that the regulatory agency had issued subpoenas to both firms in early December.
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