Bitcoin's collapse is raising suspicions about price manipulation

Record bitcoin price propped up by another digital currency

Tether Manipulation Pushed Up Bitcoin's Price, Researchers Find

The researchers noted that the "bitcoin reversal did not exist before Tether was prevalent in the market and disappears during the period when Tether stops being printed".

However, the two notably discovered that it does not take a large amount of tether to prop bitcoin's price - "even less than 1 percent of extreme exchange of tether for bitcoin has substantial aggregate price effects", the study said.

Bitcoin isn't all it has been cracked up to be, according to a new report by a University of Texas professor.

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"Tether seems to be used to stabilize and manipulate Bitcoin prices", said Professor John Griffin and Amin Shams in their research paper. The study explains that "tether is created, moved to Bitfinex, and then slowly moved out to other crypto-exchanges, mainly Poloniex and Bittrex".

There is evidence that tether, a digital currency pegged to the US dollar, may have been used to manipulate the price of bitcoin BTC=BTSP and other cryptocurrencies, according to a research paper released by the University of Texas on Wednesday. Bitfinex stopped issuing Tether earlier this year, though the currency, the value of which is pegged to the United States dollar, is still trading in large volumes. Evidence of price manipulation was found in all of those, too.

The CEO of Bitfinex, a cryptocurrency exchange, also runs Tether, and in December, a U.S. regulator sent a subpoena to both companies. The paper does not prove definitively that Bitfinex was tangled in price manipulation, but the evidence gives a strong indicator that it was involved. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice have been investigating whether bitcoin and other cryptocurrency prices are being manipulated, Bloomberg reported last month.

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In the paper, Griffin and Shams write, "By mapping the blockchains of Bitcoin and Tether, we are able to establish that entities associated with the Bitfinex exchange use Tether to purchase Bitcoin when prices are falling". In a nutshell, trades of Tether were "timed following market downturns" triggering "sizable increases in Bitcoin prices".

To prevent future price manipulation, the researchers say that "external capital market surveillance and monitoring" may be necessary to keep the market free from tampering.

"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.

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