Bitfinex’s Parent Company Has a New Offshore Services Provider

iFinex, the parent company of controversial cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, appears to have hired a new offshore corporate services provider.

A trademark application dated Oct. 31 gives iFinex’s address as care of SHRM Trustees (BVI) Ltd., marking a change from prior trademark applications – including one filed in June 2017 – which gave the address as care of Estera Corporate Services (BVI) Ltd.

Both SHRM and Estera, the filings show, are located in Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands.

Recent trademark application showing iFinex’s address as “c/o SHRM Trustees (BVI) Ltd.”

Older trademark application showing iFinex’s address as “c/o Estera Corporate Services (BVI) Ltd.”

The change was first spotted by Jakal Intel, a pseudonymous sleuth who describes their focus as “OSINT [open-source intelligence] driven investigations into investment scams and Ponzi schemes.”

Estera, which changed its name from Appleby in April 2016, also served as a director of Tether Holdings Ltd., according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) database of offshore leaks. Tether is closely tied to Bitfinex, sharing directors and shareholders in common, and Tether Holdings was registered at the same Town Road address as iFinex.

Estera Corporate Services Managing Director Gareth Thomas confirmed to CoinDesk that iFinex is no longer a client of Estera.

CoinDesk reached out to Bitfinex, Tether and SHRM for comment, but did not receive a reply before press time.

Why SHRM?

According to SHRM’s website, the firm provides a number of services to corporations, funds, family offices and yacht enthusiasts. The site lists a number of these services, including “formation and administration of onshore and offshore companies” and “provision of directors and/or managers” – both standard offerings in the offshore services industry.

There are few publicly available clues to what might set SHRM apart from its rivals, including Estera. There is, however, one example of a company hiring SHRM, reported by the BBC in 2017.

Bridgewaters, an Isle of Man-based firm that the BBC described as being “involved in major deals involving Russian cash, including the purchase of significant stakes in Facebook,” had a number of companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Bridgewaters had previously been a client of Mossack Fonseca, the now-defunct Panamanian law firm whose records formed the infamous Panama Papers leak.

Mossfon, as the firm was sometimes known, pushed to obtain additional information from Bridgewaters, including apparent links to Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, according to the BBC. That push for increased transparency appears to have driven Bridgewaters to find a new provider.

“After Mossfon raised questions about compliance,” the BBC wrote, “Bridgewaters transferred most of its BVI companies to another financial services company, SHRM Trustees, in February 2015.”

Shopping offshore

iFinex’s change in offshore service providers recalls the months-long search for a stable banking partner that Bitfinex and Tether engaged in under significant public scrutiny.

The two firms lost access to Taiwanese banks in early 2017 as a result of intervention by Wells Fargo. Noble Bank, based in Puerto Rico, filled the gap, but that relationship ended around October.

For some time it was not clear where Bitfinex and Tether were banking, and the exchange was pushed to publicly deny that it was insolvent. Tether’s current banking partner is Deltec, based in the Bahamas.

The anxiety in the market around Bitfinex and Tether continues. Bitfinex recently introduced a 3 percent fee on large and frequent deposits, which many interpreted as being designed to slow the pace of withdrawals from the exchange, given that customers are complaining that they’ve been waiting weeks to receive fiat withdrawals.

Tether, meanwhile, has sought to produce convincing proof that the outstanding supply – which has shrunk markedly as the company has removed hundreds of millions of tokens from circulation – is backed by dollar deposits.

A recent letter from Deltec saying that Tether had sufficient deposits attracted skepticism from some quarters.

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Photo via Shutterstock.

Source: Coindesk

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The Daily: Bitsane Introduces Tether-Euro Pair, Covesting Launches in Gibraltar

The Daily: Bitsane Introduces Tether-Euro Pair, Covesting Launches in Gibraltar

The Daily

In Friday’s edition of The Daily, we look at Bitsane’s decision to list tether (USDT) and trade it against the euro. We also cover two other recent announcements in the crypto-space. Digital asset trading platform Covesting is launching operations in Gibraltar, where it has obtained a distributed ledger technology license. And Swissone, a Zug-based digital asset management company, is establishing a regulated tokenized fund.  

Also read: Coinbase Blesses Binance, Game Day for BCH

Bitsane to Trade USDT Against the Euro

European cryptocurrency exchange Bitsane has announced that it’s listing tether (USDT). The stablecoin will trade on its platform in pairs with a number of cryptocurrencies, including BCH, BTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, DASH, DOGE, ETC and REP. Launched as a fiat alternative backed by the U.S. dollar at a 1-to-1 ratio, USDT is usually traded against the greenback. However, Bitsane now offers the option to exchange the cryptocurrency with the euro.

The Dublin-based digital asset trading platform was established in November 2016 and has since signed up around 240,000 users. The exchange currently processes about 25,000 transactions per day and has a daily trading volume of approximately $6 million.

The Daily: Bitsane Introduces Tether-Euro Pair, Covesting Launches in Gibraltar

A number of alternatives to tether have recently hit the market. Some of the more notable examples of these new stablecoins include the gemini dollar (GUSD) and paxos standard (PAX), both of which are ERC20 tokens backed 1-to-1 with U.S. fiat currency. Circle’s USDC is another stablecoin that will soon be listed on leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance.

Covesting Opens Crypto Exchange in Gibraltar

Covesting, another cryptocurrency exchange based in Europe, has announced a soft launch of its new trading platform in Gibraltar. The company recently secured a distributed ledger technology (DLT) license from the authorities in the British Overseas Territory.

The Daily: Bitsane Introduces Tether-Euro Pair, Covesting Launches in GibraltarOver the past year, Gibraltar has adopted dedicated regulations that are tailored to attract businesses from the crypto industry. Covesting, which is registered and incorporated in the jurisdiction, is a fintech company launched by former Saxo Bank traders.

Users who would like to participate in the soft launch are required to register and pass know-your-customer and identity verification procedures. Then they’ll be able to deposit any of the cryptocurrencies that are currently available for trading by transferring funds from their wallets to the trading portfolio on Covesting’s platform. Additional methods for fiat deposits, including credit cards, as well as wire and bank transfers, will be added in the near future.

Swissone to Establish Regulated Tokenized Fund

Swissone Capital AG, a Zug-based digital asset management company, has announced the upcoming launch of a tokenized and fully regulated index fund. According to a press release, the fund will be licensed by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) and offer clients “the liquid utility of tokenization combined with the safeguards of regulatory recognition.”

The Daily: Bitsane Introduces Tether-Euro Pair, Covesting Launches in GibraltarA global survey conducted by professional services network PwC recently showed that regulatory uncertainty and a lack of trust are the two major barriers to entry in the cryptocurrency market. Swissone Capital hopes to substantially ease these two serious concerns by acquiring approval from the Swiss financial regulator.

Over the past few years, a sizable cryptocurrency market has developed in Switzerland, turning the country into one of Europe’s leading crypto-friendly jurisdictions. The country is home to the so-called “Crypto Valley” in the canton of Zug, where hundreds of blockchain startups and fintech companies are now based. Swiss crypto businesses can also take advantage of services offered by banks in neighboring Liechtenstein.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitsane, Covesting, Swissone.


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Stablecoin Supremacy Battle Heats Up; Binance Lists USDC, Tether Below a Buck

Once up a time there was crypto and fiat. If you wanted to trade in altcoins you had to first buy Bitcoin. Tether changed all that when it came onto the scene on Bitfinex in 2015, today there are a slew of stablecoins all competing for supremacy.USDC Listed on BinanceThe controversy surrounding Tether coupled with its recent volatility has led to the birth of several similar dollar pegged stablecoins. Once has been created by Coinbase and partners at Circle, USD Coin. On Thursday USDC was granted a new realm of legitimacy when Binance, the world’s top crypto exchange by trade volume, announced that it would be listing new pairs.According to the announcement Binance will be offering two new USDC pairs for Bitcoin and its own Binance Coin (BNB) as of November 17. To quash the auditing concerns that plagued Tether, the exchange added;“Additionally, for increased transparency, USDC has engaged a top-ranking auditing firm to release monthly balance attestations of the corresponding USDC and USD balances held/issued.”USD Coin is only a few months old but it is growing in power as an alternative to USDT. It still has a way to go though, with daily volume, according to Coinmarketcap, at $16 million, compared to $4.7 billion in Tether trade. However, with USDC available on Coinbase and now Binance, its usage is expected to grow rapidly especially when more trading pairs are introduced.According to the company blog “Circle and Coinbase co-founded the CENTRE Consortium with the goal of establishing a standard for fiat on the internet and providing a governance framework and network for the global, mainstream adoption of fiat stablecoins.”If complete transparency and audits are forthcoming it may not be long before USDC surpasses USDT however the centralization issue raises its head again when one company is holding all of the cards. This is especially true if Tether continues to show volatility and inability to maintain its dollar peg.Tether in TurmoilDuring the recent crypto rout Tether fell to $0.964 whereas USDC actually hit a peak of $1.06. The Gemini Exchange’s GUSD spiked at $1.18 according to CMC. At the time of writing USDC is still trading over a dollar and USDT is under it. Fortune has noted that if Tether collapses “it could deliver a shock to the crypto markets that makes this week’s wipeout look like a hiccup.”The good news is that there are now several alternatives to Tether in addition to USD Coin, such as TrueUSD (TUSD), Gemini’s own GUSD, Maker DAO’s Dai, and the Paxos Standard Dollar (PAX). So traders are no longer tethered to Tether, go ahead and take your pick, some are even offering more than buck right now. Image from Shutterstock