Wall Street Journal Faces Defamation Lawsuit Tied to 2023 Tether-Bitfinex Story

    Key Takeaways

    • Wall Street Journal stated that the lawsuit is itself replete with inaccuracies and distortions.
    • The contentious article discussed Tether and Bitfinex’s difficulties in accessing the global banking system, implying that they turned to shady intermediaries, forged documents, and shell corporations to restore their access.

    The Wall Street Journal is facing legal action in the form of a defamation lawsuit filed by Christopher Harborne, the owner of AML Global Ltd., a Thai-based aviation fuel broker. Harborne alleges that an article published by the renowned publication falsely implicated him and his company in illicit activities related to stablecoin issuer Tether and cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex. 

    The lawsuit, filed in a Delaware state court on February 28, alleges that the article, titled “Crypto Companies Behind Tether Used Falsified Documents and Shell Companies to Get Bank Accounts,” contained baseless accusations of fraud, money laundering, and terrorism financing.

    Published in March 2023, the contentious article claimed that Tether and Bitfinex had engaged in questionable practices, including the use of shadowy intermediaries, falsified documents, and shell companies, to regain access to the global banking system. The Wall Street Journal asserted that certain accounts linked to these companies were involved in illegal activities. However, Harborne disputes these allegations, asserting that they lack factual basis and are contradicted by documentation in his possession. 

    The article had devoted several paragraphs to Harborne and AML Global’s application for a Signature Bank account. However, the content has been removed from the article since Feb. 21, 2024, and an editor’s note has been added. This was prior to Harborne filing a lawsuit.

    Wall Street Journal Faces Defamation Lawsuit Tied To 2023 Tether-Bitfinex Story

    More than nine months after the article was published, counsel for Mr. Harborne and AML Global contacted us to dispute the five paragraphs that included reporting about them. Following our review, we removed this section from the article and appended an Editor’s Note in accordance with our editorial standards. The lawsuit they filed against Dow Jones is itself replete with inaccuracies and distortions. We take our journalistic responsibilities seriously, and we intend to mount a robust legal defense”, Wall Street Journal Spokesperson said.

    In his lawsuit, Harborne clarified that while he does hold a 12% ownership stake in Bitfinex, this stake was acquired through the company’s reimbursement plan for customers affected by a 2016 hack of the exchange. He emphasized that he has never held a management or executive role at Bitfinex or Tether and is simply a minority shareholder.

    When the article was first published Tether’s Paolo Ardoino had rubbished the claims in the article terming it a clown article that contained a ton of misinformation and inaccuracies.

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