Bitfinex Says It Shouldn’t Have to Collect Documents for NYAG During Appeal

Bitfinex is clutching its documents despite objections from the office of the New York Attorney General (NYAG).

In a letter filed to the New York State Supreme Court Tuesday, attorneys for Bitfinex, Tether and other affiliated entities wrote that a request made by the NYAG’s office relating to a $900 billion loan between sister companies Bitfinex and Tether should be denied.

Lawyers for Bitfinex claim the NYAG’s office did not cite any authority supporting its request, further suggesting that the state prosecutor seems to believe that the “collection burdens are meaningless.” 

That said, the letter admits that simply collecting the documents would require a significant expense.

The letter also pushes back against allegations that the exchange is stalling on its court-ordered document production requirements.

“OAG’s allegations concerning delay are in all events misleading, and unfairly attack the motives of the Respondents and their counsel,” the letter – signed by Jason Weinstein of Steptoe & Johnson, and David Miller and Zoe Phillips of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius – states.

As one example, the letter notes:

“OAG complains of being unable to conduct a ‘thorough’ or ‘coherent’ investigation (OAG Letter, at 2), but fails to mention that Respondents have already produced material pertaining to customers with New York connections.”

These materials apparently include more than 70,000 pages of documents produced between May and July 2019 (the NYAG’s office previously claimed that the respondents “failed to produce a single non-jurisdictional document” between April and August 2019).

Bitfinex’s attorneys filed a number of exhibits to support their letter, including the motion materials for the exchange’s appeal and a transcript of a court proceeding from May 6, 2019.

Six months on

The NYAG’s office alleged in April that Bitfinex lost access to $850 billion held by a payment processor, and covered up the loss by borrowing from Tether’s reserves, which were meant to back the USDT stablecoin at a 1:1 ratio.

Attorneys for the NYAG successfully secured an injunction from the New York Supreme Court that ordered the companies to turn over all documentation about the process, as well as prevent Tether from loaning any further funds to Bitfinex. In August, an appeals court granted Bitfinex a temporary stay, allowing the companies some breathing room before turning over any documents. 

The NYAG’s office asked the New York judge to order Bitfinex to collect all of the documents pertaining to the loan, to ensure they could be immediately turned over if the government wins the appeal.

While Bitfinex pushed back against the request to collect all the documents called for in a previous court order in its letter Tuesday, the company said it would not oppose a request to extend the injunction by a further 90 days.

The appeal is set to be heard in January 2020, the letter said, adding:

“Even if a decision issues immediately, a further period of 90 days under the injunction will take us to April 2020 – a full year from when the injunction first issued. This is by any measure an excessively long period of time, and certainly more than enough time for tether holders to decide in full view of the facts whether they would like to continue holding their tethers or to redeem.”

Tuesday’s letter comes on the heels of a new putative class action lawsuit alleging Bitfinex and Tether caused immense damage to the crypto market as a result of its use of USDT to manipulate the bitcoin market. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, references the NYAG action against Bitfinex as evidence supporting its allegations.

Bitfinex image via Shutterstock

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