A TL; DR for Tether

Cas Piancey
3 min readJan 4, 2021

With a new bull run occurring in Bitcoin, it seems many people have forgotten exactly why there’s concern about what’s happening at Tether, so this is a short summary.

The Beginning

Tether is founded as “RealCoin” by Brock Pierce, Reeve Collins, and Craig Sellars. Upon founding, very little RealCoins, or Tether, are printed or listed on exchanges.


A year or two after the RealCoin business is established, it is silently sold to the new exchange market leader, Bitfinex. At this point the name is changed to Tether. Once listed on Bitfinex, real volume — though still minimal — begins. Mentioned in the purchase are Giancarlo Devasini (CFO of Bitfinex), JL Van der Velde (CEO of Bitfinex), and Phil Potter (former CSO of Bitfinex). The only way the public finds out about the purchase is via the Panama Papers.


Both Bitfinex (twice) and Tether are hacked. No security audits or financial audits are ever conducted. Also necessary to mention is that at no point is a proper audit or attestation conducted on Tether, Tether loses banking in Taiwan, Tether and Bitfinex begin to work with infamous shadow bank Crypto Capital Corp again, and Tether breaks peg more than once.

Bitfinex’ed and ““FUD””

Bitfinex’ed, an anonymous Twitter account and blogger, questions the goings-on at Bitfinex and Tether relentlessly. Bitfinex says they will sue the anonymous blogger because he’s hurting their business and making it impossible to get an audit. The lawsuit doesn’t materialize. Neither do any real audits or attestations.

Attempts Are Made

Tether signs up to get audits from Friedman LLP. This fails triumphantly. They engage with the firm Freeh, Sporkin, and Sullivan to provide an attestation. This doesn’t explain:

  • where Tether funds originate
  • how the funds were acquired
  • if they are in fact debt

Oh, and it isn’t done by auditors, it’s done by a bunch of lawyers who aren’t saying anything more than, “Sure, there’s money in accounts.”

Hello Mr. Regulators, Sirs

Bitfinex and Tether — and in a separate case, Crypto Capital Corp — are brought to court. Bitfinex and Tether are currently facing off against the NY Attorney General. Crypto Capital Corp (Reggie Fowler, the Yosefs, and Ivan Manuel Molina Lee) has more intense charges in federal court.

Also of note, Ivan Manuel Molina Lee, the founder of Crypto Capital Corp, is arrested in Greece and shuttled off to Poland, never to be heard from again.

The Yosefs remain at-large.

Tether Shows ““Proof of Reserves””

The Pie Charts provided to the public by Tether

I won’t go into depth here, but the TL; DR for these pie charts: does it look like 1–1 backed stablecoin — even if you give them the benefit of the doubt and account for cash equivalents? The answer is absolutely, positively no.

If you’d like a lengthier perspective on this disclosure, read the piece by myself and David Canellis or listen to Bennett Tomlin and I run through every aspect of it as quickly as we can.

That’s It

That’s where we are until cases move forward. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s been any “resolution” until there’s been actual resolution.

Stay skeptical, friends.