The Department of Justice (DoJ) has launched a criminal investigation into Tether over potential bank fraud, Bloomberg reports citing sources familiar, capping off a weird week for the abstruse stablecoin.
To start, Tether general counsel Stuart Hoegner and chief tech guy Paolo Ardoino fielded a disastrous CNBC interview with Deirdre Bosa.
The dynamic duo failed to build confidence and seemed off-kilter during the exchange — Ardoino and Hoegner rarely appear outside of Twitter and puffy YouTube podcasts.
Having run out of marketing script to read, the pair were forced to address why chief exec JL van der Verle and finance officer Giancarlo Devasini were more-or-less unaccounted for (Hoegner calls their media absentia a “matter of style.”)
But in the days following, Devasini showed up in a photo with non-practicing (but well-known) Argentinian lawyer Carlos Maslatón in Milan.
“Spectacular meeting analyzing markets, regulations, and government policies,” said Maslatón (automatically translated).
“USDT is now $62 billion and has been essential since 2017 to save [Bitcoin] from banks,” he said.
Maslatón also tweeted to say that he found it quite easy to redeem USDT for US dollars.
CNBC’s Bosa had asked Ardoino and Hoegner whether their stablecoin could indeed be exchanged for real currency.
Tether coffee, DoJ dessert
Strangest of all, Tether celebrated what it claims is a “Tether Cafe” in Zhuhai, China: a suspicious outpost that supposedly serves USDT-branded coffee.
Just hours after the Tether lattes had cooled came a far more important disclosure by way of Bloomberg: a DoJ criminal probe into Tether’s executive leadership.
The DoJ’s investigation reportedly centers around Tether’s early years, mostly on possible bank fraud (misleading banks by failing to disclose their business was crypto-related), and potentially additional charges.
Tether responded to the article shortly after with a blog post, calling the story a “repackaging” of “stale claims” and “patently designed to generate clicks.”
Noticeably absent denial of the criminal probe or an explanation for the bank fraud claims. Eerily silent is CEO van der Verle.
“It is business as usual at Tether, and we remain focused on how to best serve the needs of our customers,” said the company.
So, while this week was a weird one for Tether, odds are we’re in for weirder still.