Business 8 June 2018

Gerald Fenech

US regulator junks FOIA request for Bitfinex, Tether subpoenas: report

An important development has taken place in the crypto space after reports surfaced that the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) rejected a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the subpoenas that were allegedly issued to cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex and ‘stablecoin’ Tether.

According to a CoinDesk report, the FOIA requests for Bitfinex, its subsidiaries, as well as Tether, along with its subsidiaries, were originally submitted in February. The filing appeared some weeks after reports had indicated that Bitfinex and Tether had been subpoenaed by the CFTC, although wasn’t clear what they were being investigated for. This news came after it was revealed that the relationship between Tether and auditing firm Friedman LLP had ended, prompting calls of fraud and other similar allegations with several questioning if Tether was really backed by U.S. dollars.

However, in its strong response to the FOIA request, which was dated June 5, the CFTC said that it had found “thousands of responsive records, all of which are exempt from the FOIA’s disclosure requirement.” The U.S. regulator pointed out that some of the commission’s documents are exempt from public disclosure for various reasons, such as in cases when “disclosure of that material could reasonably be expected to interfere with the conduct of the Commission’s law enforcement activities.”

Also exempted from the FOIA are documents primarily aimed at protecting the confidentiality of sources, according to the futures regulator. It stated: “That exemption is intended to ensure that ‘confidential sources are not lost because of retaliation against the sources for past disclosures or because of the sources’ fear of future disclosures.’”

In response to the report, Bitfinex head of marketing Kasper Rasmussen told the news outlet that the firm “routinely receive[s] legal processes as well as inquiries from law enforcement agencies,” noting that it was their policy not to comment on such requests.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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