Taking a Closer Look at New Reporting Around Bitfinex's Banking

Taking a Closer Look at New Reporting Around Bitfinex’s Banking

Amid allegations surfacing that Bitfinex’s reported banking partner Noble Bank was nearing insolvency, the cryptocurrency exchange power has appeared to acutely shift its USD banking to a private HSBC account owned by Global Trading Solutions, LLC. The move possibly suggests Bitfinex is leaning on a firm connected to the network of the rather mysterious executive Ivan Manuel Molina Lee, though a definitive connection is lacking for now.  

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Bitfinex Turning to a Familiar Face for Help?

Bitfinex’s opaque banking has been a consistent talking point in the cryptocurrency ecosystem over the past two years. Now, the exchange has seemingly turned to Global Trading Solutions, LLC. for help, a firm that may or may not be connected to Crypto Capital Corp. (CCC) and Global Trade Solutions AG.

For its part, Bitfinex reportedly turned to the Panama-based CCC for help with fiat liquidity in 2017 after running into banking problems. At the time of that reporting, Ivan Manuel Molina Lee was the president of the firm. And Global Trade Solutions AG, which bears a striking title similarity to Global Trading Solutions, LLC., saw Lee assume its presidency in March 2018.

Ivan Manuel Molina Lee becomes Global Trade Solutions AG president in March 2018. Image via Business Monitor.

GTS AG is currently based out of Zug, Switzerland — the so-called capital of “Crypto Valley” in Europe. Approximately one month prior to Lee taking over as president of GTS AG, Global Trading Solutions, LLC. was formed within the jurisdiction of the U.S. state of Colorado, with the corporation’s mailing address being pegged in Chandler, Arizona.

Specifically, the same mailing address provided for that LLC is the same account address that The Block analyst Larry Cermak noted on October 6th, 2018, was where Bitfinex was presently directing USD wire transfers to.

That account is a private account held at HSBC, the banking titan who maintains an office at 769 Broadway New York, NY 10003.

With that said, Bitfinex may be turning to a familiar face — Crypto Capital Corp.’s Ivan Manuel Molina Lee — if GTS, LLC. and GTS AG are, in fact, connected. What’s known for now is that Lee has served as an executive at CCC and GTS AG — but what’s not currently known is if Lee has any direct connection to GTS, LLC.

Per earlier reporting from Bloomberg, it’s known in the least that Bitfinex has apparently previously been in contact with CCC and Lee.

Digging Deeper Into Lee

It’s important to note here that there’s nothing inherently undue about maintaining offshore entities. Rather, for the purposes of this article, it’s worth highlighting that Lee or his intermediaries appear to have comfort in managing a complex and expansive web of offshore LLCs and beyond, many of which are similarly titled to one another.

That’s per the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, whose Panama- and Paradise Papers-centric “Offshore Leaks Database” turned up hundreds of entities, officers, and intermediaries linked to Ivan Manuel Molina Lee.

Again, nothing necessarily undue is being suggested here; rather, it’s important to consider the number of similarly-titled variations found in the Lee-linked entities as a reference point for examining possible linkage between GTS AG and GTS, LLC.

On the CCC homepage, the Panamanian company is said to be owned by Global Trade Solutions AG out of Switzerland.

In the aforementioned database, dozens of registrations varied around the words “Lee,” “Manuel,” “Molina,” and “Ivan,” are returned upon query. These registrations also span the globe, with some being filed in Panama, Malta, and Aruba, to name a few of the locales.

That dynamic is not definitive proof that GTS AG and GTS, LLC. are linked. Instead, we can compile what we already know: Bitfinex has liased with Lee in the past, Lee is, or has, served as president of CCC and GTS AG, and Lee has a long stream of enterprises with similarly varied titles. Also, Bloomberg has previously noted that, via Lee, CCC “had links to Bank Spoldzielczy in Skierniewice, Poland, which Bitfinex apparently used for euro deposits” in the past.

Whether Lee has played a role in Bitfinex banking through GTS, LLC. remains to be seen. But with the information that is currently available, it’s a possibility that doesn’t seem completely outrageous.

What we can extrapolate here is that, in the wake of Noble Bank’s woes, Bitfinex may be leaning on a spoke in a discreet network of Lee-linked firms that the exchange seems to have some familiarity and comfort with. It’s not currently known if HSBC is aware of Bitfinex’s arrangement with GTS, LLC.

The aforementioned Larry Cermak noted by tweet that “EUR, JPY and GBP deposits are paused” on Bitfinex currently and that the exchange “expects the situation to normalize within a week.” Bitsonline will continue to track this story as it develops.

What’s your take? Do you think Bitfinex is taking the path of least resistance? Let us know where you stand in the comments below. 

Images via Crypto Capital Corp., Business Monitor, and Pixabay

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