ING, one of the world’s top banks, has confirmed that it services an account held by crypto exchange Bitfinex, which is mired in controversy due to its relationship with Tether.
Bitfinex, one of the largest crypto exchanges in terms of Bitcoin trading volume, has set up an account with Dutch-based ING Groep after the dissolution of its relationship with US banking major Wells Fargo.
Harold Reusken, a spokesperson for ING, confirmed in an email to Reuters that Bitfinex does indeed have an account with the Amsterdam-based bank. However, he would not elaborate further, citing customer confidentiality.
Reusken also said:
“With companies that are active in the crypto market we are very reserved. 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.”
Bitfinex, which is operated by British Virgin Isles-headquartered iFinex, is under scrutiny by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Last year, the exchange had its USD wire transfers suspended by Wells Fargo. At one point, the US bank even froze $180 million of costumer’s funds.
Later in 2017, Bitfinex was allegedly directing potential clients to Poland’s Bank Spoldzielczy. However, the bank declined to confirm whether the exchange was a customer.
Last week, Dutch website “Follow the Money” came out with a report about ING’s connection with Bitfinex. Based on that post, Labor Party member Henk Nijboer asked Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra in parliament on Monday to examine ING’s relationship with Bitfinex.
Bitfinex has been criticized for its close ties with Tether – the entity that issues USDT tokens, which are allegedly backed by US dollars. However, skeptics say that Tether’s funds are not fully backed by US dollars, and the claims have artificially boosted the price of USDT and Bitcoin. Tether has never provided any proof on its fiat money holdings. The situation culminated with the CFTC issuing subpoenas to both Tether and Bitfinex.
Teunis Brosens, a crypto-oriented economist at ING, criticized the USDT on Dutch program RTLZ in December.
“Every time the Bitcoin gained, then Tether gained too — it seemed that they were printed to support the quote of Bitcoin. If Tether destabilizes, that will be the next blow for crypto,” he noted.
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