Last week, Bitfinex was forced to make an announcement denying is was insolvent. 'As one of only a very few exchanges operating since 2013, with a small team and low operating costs, we do not entirely understand the arguments that purport to show us to be insolvent without providing any explanation about why.' Photo:

The Bitfinex story just got even stranger. Rumors have been bouncing around for months about the Bitfinex exchange and the Tether coin that it is linked with.

Tether sells itself as a so-called “stablecoin” that is pegged to the US dollar. But critics say Tether has been issuing more tokens than it has dollars, its trading volume regularly exceeds its market cap and it has never been able to prove conclusively how big its dollar reserve actually is. In December, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission reportedly sent subpoenas to both Bitfinex and Tether, although neither party would confirm or deny any details related to this.

Now media in Poland are reporting that the seizure, by Polish authorities, of US$370 million from two companies last week on suspicion of money laundering for Colombian drug cartels has links to, yes indeed, Bitfinex.

The reports say this chapter of the story starts with a scam involving the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs building a new embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When some of the construction funds were “diverted”, an Interpol investigation followed the money to two companies with links to South America but company registrations in Poland.

“The scale of financial operations indicates that these [funds were used] to hide money from smuggling cocaine to Europe. The companies were also used for large-scale scams. Criminals have hidden their operations, also exchanging money for crypto-currencies, obliterating traces,” said Polish authorities.

Finance Magnates magazine has followed the twists and turns of the Bitfinex / Tether story as closely as any, and after reporting the later rumors received this statement from Bitfinex:

“Bitfinex can confirm that it is aware of the current allegations that have been reported by Polish media over the past several hours.… Bitfinex believes that these allegations are untrue and Bitfinex customers and operations are unaffected by false rumors. Bitfinex is proud to be the world’s leading crypto exchange, and in this capacity works tirelessly to remain in strict compliance with authorities and regulators worldwide.”

One day this will be a movie.