Tether shows its hand by accidentally minting 5 billion USDT

If it wasn’t obvious enough already how much of a danger Tether is to the cryptocurrency markets, they proved it once again on July 13. As originally reported by the Twitter account Whale Report on July 13, Tether minted and then burned 5 billion USDT tokens.

In what was apparently an accident, the Tether Treasury minted the 5 billion USDT on the Tron blockchain after Poloniex transferred 50 million USDT to the treasury via the Omni protocol on the SegWitCoin (BTC) blockchain. It then burned them after realizing the mistake.

To correct the error, Tether then minted another 50 million USDT, burned another 4.5 million USDT, and transferred 50 million Tron USDT tokens to a wallet presumed to be owned by Poloniex.

Paolo Ardoino, CTO of Tether, tweeted that Poloniex’s attempted swap of USDT tokens was the cause of the error, apparently because they got the decimal place in the wrong position.

Poloniex confirmed the story with their own tweet:

“Paolo is correct – this occurred while Poloniex was conducting a USDT chain swap with the help of Tether. An incorrect amount of USDT was accidentally minted, and this has since been resolved to the intended value.”

All of this raises so many questions about how Tether operates. The stablecoin, which claims to be at least partially backed by U.S. dollar reserves, can apparently be minted in the billions with only a fraction of the value needed to back it, raising the real possibility that it’s been used to help manipulate the price of BTC to show a much higher value than the coin should really be worth.

That possibility is one that has cast much doubt over Tether’s business partner Bitfinex, and both are currently under investigation for how they operate. Until now, the myriad of connections between Tether and bucket exchanges, and the corresponding minting of USDT and increase of BTC prices, have been enough to drive suspicion that not all trading was backed by real money.

Tether have now gone and nearly proven it though. If the market needs billions, it doesn’t matter if the money isn’t there to support it, it can be done.

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