Chief Strategy Officer Phil Potter Leaving Bitfinex
A major staff change has hit one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges. Phil G. Potter, Chief Strategy Officer of Bitfinex, is officially leaving the organization as the company “pivots away from the U.S.”
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Potter Steps Back
Rumors of this news was first reported on a May 23rd video interview on Tone Vays’ YouTube page (@ 23:55). Reuters has now reported that they have confirmed the departure with Bitfinex. Potter said in a statement:
“As Bitfinex pivots away from the U.S., I felt that, as a U.S. person, it was time for me to rethink my position as a member of the executive team.”
Bitfinex is the 4th largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world by volume. It moves ahead now without Potter, who has cleared out most of the information that was previously on his LinkedIn profile. Only his name, Bitfinex position title, and location now appear there. Whether or not he will retain his position at Tether Holdings Limited is not yet known.
Potter’s Legacy at Bitfinex
Bitfinex and its associated corporation Tether have been no stranger to controversy these past few years. Both held by parent company iFinex, Potter and Bitfinex Chief Financial Officer Giancarlo Devasini originally denied the two entities were connected. The leaked Paradise Papers in 2017 revealed both Potter and Devasini’s names on both companies, and they have since opened up about their involvement with Tether.
Doubts have persisted about the legitimacy of Tether’s financial holdings. In recent controversial developments, a federal seizure of $371 million USD in Poland last April resulted in some reports even discussing a possible link to drug cartels. A new report from Tether attempted to counter doubts about its fiats reserves.
Bitfinex and Tether were subpoenaed by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) December 6th last year. The latest in that story came on June 5th when the CFTC denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from iFinex for the subpoenas, stating that “disclosure of that material could reasonably be expected to interfere with the conduct of the Commission’s law enforcement activities.”
It is not their first time dealing with the CFTC, as Bitfinex was forced to settle charges levied against them in 2016 with a $75,000 settlement payment. The CFTC had alleged Bitfinex was “being engaged in illegal, off-exchange commodity transactions and failed to register as a futures commission merchant,” an accusation which Bitfinex did not either admit to or deny as part of the settlement.
Potter was profiled in The New York Times in 1997, in which he alluded to his income, discussed his hard hitting money making strategies, and detailed his high-spending lifestyle. His employer at the time, investment firm Morgan Stanley, was unhappy with the article and shortly thereafter ties were severed between the company and Potter. The New York Times would again report on Potter 10 years later, also in a not-so-flattering light.
After leaving Morgan Stanley, Potter worked for the now defunct global investment bank Bear Sterns. He founded companies of his own afterwards, and eventually joined Bitfinex in 2013. In his statement of departure, he mentioned “new opportunities” but did not go into further detail.
Bitfinex has stated that Chief Executive JL van der Velde will replace Potter in the interim.
What’s your take? Is this business as usual or strange? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Images via Knowledge Quest, Pixabay