Tether, a prominent stablecoin issuer, has become embroiled in a legal dispute in London’s High Court. According to a report by the Financial Times, Tether deposited over $1 billion with a subsidiary of investment bank Britannia Financial. This revelation comes as Britannia Financial is currently involved in a legal dispute with British Virgin Islands-registered Arbitral International, who alleges that Britannia failed to pay the full price for a Bahamas brokerage it purchased from Arbitral in June 2021.
Relationship between Tether and Britannia Financial Group
Tether’s stablecoin, USDT, is used to trade cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, with each token backed by a dollar. The company has kept its ownership structure, asset management, and ties with financial institutions confidential. Britannia Financial Group was founded by Venezuelan-Italian banker Julio Herrera Velutini, who was indicted on bribery allegations by US authorities in August 2022.
Regulatory Scrutiny and Banking Connections
Tether has faced regulatory scrutiny in the past, with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission alleging misleading statements in 2021 about having enough dollars to back each stablecoin in circulation. The New York attorney general’s investigation in the same year alleged that the firm did not have access to banks anywhere in the world for a period from mid-2017.
Later exchange settled both probes without admitting liability. The legal battle between Britannia Financial and Arbitral International has exposed the deposit, as Britannia Financial introduced Tether to the brokerage it acquired from Arbitral, according to court filings.
Julio Herrera Velutini has donated over half a million pounds to the UK’s Conservative party since Boris Johnson became prime minister, including £100,000 days before the 2019 general election. Herrera Velutini resigned as a director of Britannia Global Markets in late November 2021 and is not involved in any day-to-day management of any other Britannia entity, according to Britannia Financial’s CEO, Mark Bruce.
The legal battle between Britannia Financial and Arbitral International is likely to provide further insights into Tether’s relationship with Britannia Financial. The outcome of the case could also have implications for the Conservative Party’s reputation.