Bitfinex and Tether may be insolvent. Bitfinex and Tether and owned and operated by the same people. They are separate entities, but they share significant common personnel.
Today the Assistant NYAG filed a motion to try and prevent Bitfinex from taking part in any transaction between it and Tether. Here's the raw document: https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/fbem/DocumentDisplayServlet?documentId=vIexA1b0spKOnK_PLUS_ZUGTJ3A==&system=prod
Reporting on the above filing is available from the WSJ:
What is going on? The filing lays out that Bitfinex has lost access to $850 million dollars of corporate and depositor money to a company called Crypto Capital. Bitfinex believes that those funds may have been stolen and that Crypto Capital has been engaged in defrauding Bitfinex. Bitfinex - in order to pay out withdrawals has been running out of cash. Bitfinex has engaged in multiple transactions with Tether of questionable nature. It has obtained lines of credit and fiat currency (ostensibly to pay out fiat withdrawals - this is speculation but a logical conclusion based on the filing and its context) It also appears to have sold equity in itself to Tether for access to Tether's reserves. There is still a lot of missing information, but it seems clear that Bitfinex has lost $850 million dollars in some fashion and attempted to fulfill customer withdrawal requests from funds from Tether reserves.
Tether has recently updated its terms:
“Every tether is always 100% backed by our reserves, which include traditional currency and cash equivalents and, from time to time, may include other assets and receivables from loans made by Tether to third parties, which may include affiliated entities.”
That other affiliated entity is Bitfinex. Tether now no longer holds all currency reserves - it now has extended a line of credit to Bitfinex - to the tune of $700 million, and may also hold shares in Bitfinex.
If Bitfinex has lost $850 million, then the equity that Tether holds in Bitfinex may be encumbered or worthless. If Bitfinex has taken out loans or drawn on its line of credit, those funds may never be returned. There is now clear evidence that tether is at serious risk of of not being backed at a 1:1 ratio.
What does this mean for you? Tether now is EXTREMELY risky to hold. There is clear evidence that Bitfinex has taken money from Tether, and its ability to repay it is in serious doubt. If Bitfinex truly has lost $850 million dollars, it may be insolvent. If Tether no longer has all the money backing it - because it owns Bitfinex assets, which are of questionable value, it's value will plummet, and all assets denominated in tether will appreciate.
There are lessons from Mt. Gox here. Mt. Gox did not just happen in one day. It played out over multiple months, the entire time with assurances that things are fine. Things were not fine - at all. The filing released today is damning. It is linked above, read it for yourself. The evidence presented in there is clear that something is terribly wrong at Bitfinex. It is not a certainty that Bitfinex is insolvent - but the filing lays out items that are terrifying to anyone holding significant financial assets related to Bitfinex and Tether entities.
Plain and simple: Depositors, and users of Tether are at serious risk of taking losses. Exchanges are the largest holders of Tethers, and when/if it becomes clear that tethers are no longer worth 1:1 they will be forced to freeze all tether assets until the situation can be straightened out. This process will potentially take years, into a decade or more. Mt. Gox funds are still not distributed to this day, over 5 years ago. The sheer complexity of a Bitfinex/Tether insolvency will play out over multiple jurisdictions and will take an eternity to sort out.
Again, read the primary documents filed by the AAGNY and decide for yourself if it is likely that Tether and Bitfinex are completely safe. Thousands of us lost our funds in Mt. Gox - and we've paid dearly. There are serious concerns if you are a Bitfinex customer, or if you hold USDT Tether on other exchanges.