A new report by the Wall Street Journal
has shed light on the previously unknown ownership structure of Tether Holdings Limited, who is the issuer of the world's largest stablecoin Tether (USDT). The report is based on the investigatory documents which were obtained from the probes conducted during 2021 by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the New York Attorney General's office. The report specifically highlights the extent of centralization of ownership within the company, which has played a very important role in the crypto industry over the past few years by providing a non-volatile method of conducting transactions using cryptocurrencies.
According to the report, just four individuals held a total of 86% of Tether Holdings as of 2018, including Giancarlo Devasini, the former plastic surgeon and the current Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of crypto exchange Bitfinex, who owned approximately 43% of Tether. Jean-Louis van Der Velde, who is the CEO of Bitfinex, and Stuart Hoegner, who holds the position of Chief Counsel at both Bitfinex and Tether, also owned about 15% of Tether each. The fourth major owner was a dual citizen of the UK and Thailand, Christopher Harborne and Chakrit Sakunkrit, who controlled about 13% of Tether.
Tether, which was established back in 2014 by Devasini and former child actor and crypto entrepreneur Brock Pierce, has faced numerous controversies over the past few years, including several allegations against the company for misrepresenting the amount of fiat collateral backing its stablecoin. The company reached a settlement with the New York Attorney General's office in 2021, which required the company to pay a total $18.5 million in damages and submit periodic disclosures of its reserves.
Despite these controversies and the absolute lack of transparency surrounding Tether's operations and ownership details, the stablecoin has played a significant role in easing the concerns of investors during the crypto winter of last year, as its market capitalization paired with the reserves posted by its issuer have helped secure the confidence of investors. The Chief Technology Officer of both Bitfinex and Tether, Paolo Ardoino, took to social media to express his opinion of the Wall Street Journal's article, calling it "a clown article", while also stating that "Tether is standing for freedom and inclusion".
Tether's popularity highlights the central role that stablecoins play in the crypto market and the impact they have on the movement of money within the industry. The report by the Wall Street Journal provides a glimpse into the company's ownership structure which has been shrouded in secrecy, and also serves as a reminder of the need for increased transparency and decentralization within the crypto market. The fact that just four individuals controlled 86% of Tether raises questions about the decentralization of ownership and the level of control that a few individuals hold over the crypto market.