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WSJ faces defamation lawsuit linked to Tether-Bitfinex article

by SuperiorInvest

The Wall Street Journal is reportedly facing a defamation lawsuit over allegations made in an article published in 2023 describing illegal activities involving crypto companies Tether and Bitfinex.

According to research platform OffshoreAlert, Christopher Harborne and his company AML Global Ltd filed a lawsuit in Delaware Superior Court on February 28 against Dow Jones & Company, the Journal's parent entity.

Harborne is one of the shareholders of stablecoin issuer Tether, holding almost 13% of the crypto company. His involvement is reportedly a result of Bitfinex's repayment plan following a hack in 2016, but he claims he does not hold any executive position there.

“This defamation action arises from the publication by defendant Dow Jones & Company, Inc., d/b/a The Wall Street Journal (the “Journal”), of an article in which it falsely accused plaintiffs Christopher Harborne (“ Mr. Harborne”), and AMLF of committing fraud, laundering money and financing terrorists, despite the fact that the Journal and its reporters knew and possessed documentation that conclusively demonstrated that those accusations are false.”

The article, published in February 2023, claims that the companies behind the Bitfinex crypto exchange “were struggling to maintain their access to the global banking system” in late 2018. Citing emails and documents, the article says the situation led to “backers” of Bitfinex to take advantage of “dark intermediaries, forged documents and shell companies to get back in.”

Harborne was described in the article as “a businessman and technology investor with dual British and Thai citizenship with extensive holdings in aviation and cryptocurrency who has lived and worked in Thailand for more than two decades.”

The article devoted at least five paragraphs to Harborne and AML Global's request for a Signature Bank account. However, the content was removed from the article as of February 21, 2024, and an editor's note was added.

Editor's note added to article on February 21, 2024: Source: The Wall Street Journal

In 2023, when the story was published, Tether's Paolo Ardonio called the article a “clown article” that would only fuel the company's growth.

Tether's stablecoin, USDT (USDT), saw significant growth in 2023, gaining more than $20 billion in market value as its competitors battled concerns about contagion effects from the US financial system.

The company reported a net profit of $2.85 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023, largely due to passive income from U.S. Treasury securities backing its reserves.

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