Tether "accounts for more transaction volume than United States dollars" for bitcoin, the researchers say.
The CFTC and Securities and Exchange Commision have been ramping up their enforcement efforts against fraudulent cryptocurrency activity and scams as Bitcoin and other digital tokens gained prominence over the a year ago.
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Again, in plain language: in periods right after the bitcoin price falls and Tether mints a bunch more USDT, that's when it's clear that somebody (who could it be?!) is artificially pushing the bitcoin price back up.
Their findings suggest that Bitfinex, an exchange which created and sold Tether, used their currency to snap up bitcoin and drive demand for it, bumping up prices. Bitfinex stopped issuing Tether earlier this year, though the currency, the value of which is pegged to the U.S. dollar, is still trading in large volumes.
Bitcoin isn't all it has been cracked up to be, according to a new report by a University of Texas professor. These purchases alone accounted for 50 percent of the cryptocurrency's compounded gains, when its value skyrocketed from $1,200 to around $10,000. Other digital currencies like Ethereum and Litecoin soared at around the same time by as much as 64 percent.
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Bitfinex, a cryptocurrency exchange, distributed Tether and supplied it to other exchanges, mainly Poloniex and Bittrex, the researchers said. The paper does not prove definitively that Bitfinex was tangled in price manipulation, but the evidence gives a strong indicator that it was involved. "Tether seems to be used both to stabilize and manipulate Bitcoin prices", the researchers wrote.
As CCN reported, Tether has increasingly come under scrutiny as the tether token's market cap has swelled over the past calendar year. Bitcoin's all-time highs around $20,000 one month later - and those of major altcoins - were also a result of Tether flooding the market with coins, they say.
Note: Readers may remember that in December, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission subpoenaed Bitfinex and Tether, which have overlapping management teams. "These findings suggest that external capital market surveillance and monitoring may be necessary to obtain a market that is truly free", they conclude.
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"Bitfinex nor Tether is, or has ever, engaged in any sort of market or price manipulation", Bitfinex CEO JL van der Velde told Bloomberg in an e-mailed statement.