Tether now in hot water
Tether, the issuer of the world’s largest stablecoin, USDT, is in hot water yet again. Recently, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published a report alleging that the company had used fake documents and shell companies to open bank accounts. This report cites emails and documents to make claims that the company behind USDT went to extraordinary lengths to remain connected to the traditional banking system.
According to the WSJ, Tether’s parent company used problematic third parties that were associated with hundreds of millions of dollars of seized assets and connections to a designated terrorist organization. Furthermore, the report revealed that Tether’s backers used fake sales invoices and contracts to “circumvent the banking system” and help their parent company get into the banking system.
Tether, however, has vehemently denied these allegations, calling the WSJ report “wholly inaccurate and misleading.” The company said it has world-class compliance programs and adheres to applicable Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Customer (KYC), and Counter-Terrorist Financing legal requirements.
Tether’s business involves minting USDT, which is the third-largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin and Ethereum, with a market capitalization of $71 billion. USDT is a stablecoin backed by a stable asset, such as the US dollar. People use it to quickly enter and exit trades without using a traditional bank or fiat currency. Tether is especially popular in markets where dollars are restricted or unavailable and in DeFi, which aims to disintermediate banks.
No stranger to controversy
But Tether has long been a controversial company. It has yet to provide documentation to prove that its stablecoin is backed by US dollars, and the entity is not independently audited. In 2021, Tether agreed to no longer do business in New York after a two-year New York Attorney General investigation found it had “made false statements about the backing” of its stablecoin.
The WSJ report is particularly concerning because if proven to be true, it could mean that Tether has violated AML and KYC laws. Tether’s stablecoin is used by millions of people globally, and if Tether’s operations have not been entirely above board, it could damage the trust that people have in cryptocurrencies and the blockchain industry as a whole. Moreover, regulators may impose fines and penalties on Tether, which could have serious financial implications for the company.
Creating fake accounts
Creating fake bank accounts is a severe offense and can have devastating consequences. It is also a complicated process, involving the use of fake documents, shell companies, and intermediaries. A shell company is a company that exists only on paper and does not have any employees or significant assets. These companies are often used for legal purposes, such as tax avoidance, but can also be used for illegal activities, such as money laundering and fraud.
Creating fake bank accounts is not easy and requires significant resources and expertise. It typically involves creating fake documents, such as utility bills and passports, to provide proof of identity and address. These documents can be obtained from the dark web or forged using advanced software.
Once the fake documents are ready, they are used to open bank accounts in the names of shell companies. These shell companies can have similar names to legitimate companies to avoid suspicion. They can also use intermediaries to help conceal their true identities. These intermediaries act as go-betweens between the shell company and the bank, making it harder to trace the funds’ origins.
Once the bank accounts are opened, the shell companies can use them to receive and transfer funds. They can also use them to provide a veneer of legitimacy to illegal activities such as money laundering and fraud. Creating fake bank accounts is a complex process that requires significant resources and expertise. However, it is not foolproof, and many individuals and companies have been caught and prosecuted for engaging in these illegal activities. In recent years, governments and financial institutions have become increasingly vigilant in their efforts to combat money laundering and other financial crimes.
One way that governments are cracking down on illegal activities such as money laundering is by implementing regulations that require banks and other financial institutions to verify the identities of their customers and report any suspicious transactions to authorities. In addition, many countries have established financial intelligence units (FIUs) that collect and analyze financial data in order to detect and prevent money laundering and other financial crimes.
Despite these efforts, money laundering and other financial crimes continue to be a major problem, with an estimated $1.6 trillion in illicit funds laundered globally each year. It is therefore important for individuals and businesses to be aware of the risks and consequences of engaging in illegal financial activities, and to take steps to ensure that they are operating within the bounds of the law. This may include working with reputable financial institutions and complying with regulations designed to prevent money laundering and other financial crimes.