June 22, 2018 / 6:10 PM / in 9 months

Bitfinex chief strategy officer departs

NEW YORK, June 22 (Reuters) - Bitfinex Chief Strategy Officer Phil Potter is leaving the cryptocurrency trading platform, the exchange told Reuters on Friday.

Potter will be replaced in the interim by Chief Executive JL van der Velde, the company said.

Potter’s departure was a “mutual parting of ways,” a spokesman said.

“As Bitfinex pivots to other strategic international markets, I felt this was a natural time for me to depart the executive team,” Potter said in a statement provided by Bitfinex. “I am looking forward to new opportunities in the days ahead.”

Owned by a British Virgin Islands company, Bitfinex is the fourth-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world by trading volume. It enables traders to buy and sell virtual currencies such as bitcoin and ether.

The exchange shares management with Tether, a company that issues a cryptocurrency that is pegged to the U.S. dollar.

Tether critics have raised concerns over the past year about whether it actually holds $1 dollar in reserve for every token called tether issued, as it claimed.

Earlier this month a University of Texas research paper alleged Tether’s token could have been used to manipulate bitcoin’s price last year during its meteoric rise.

Bitfinex has denied these claims.

This week a Washington-based law firm co-founded by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh said in a report released by Tether the company had enough U.S. dollar reserves as of June 1 to back its virtual coins in circulation. The report was not a full audit.

Global regulators have ramped up their scrutiny of cryptocurrency markets following a rally in prices last year. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Department of Justice are reportedly investigating whether the price of bitcoin is being manipulated.

In December the CFTC sent a subpoena to Tether and Bitfinex.

Potter, an American who once worked at Morgan Stanley was one of three main Bitfinex managers, including the CEO and a chief financial officer based in Europe. (Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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