A Coinbase internal investigation into alleged insider trading before it listed Bitcoin Cash has found no evidence to support the allegations.
The exchange, which hired two law firms to carry out an in-house investigation of the accusations, has stated that no wrongdoing was found, and it will take no further action.
Bitcoin Cash Allegations
Since December 2017, America's largest cryptocurrency exchange has been dogged by a series of accusations surrounding the events of December 20, when it surprised the market by announcing the listing of Bitcoin Cash.
The trouble started when Bitcoin Cash prices suddenly spiked in a heavy and unprecedented manner, driven primarily by a surge in demand from south Korean buyers on December 20.
The same day, Coinbase put out a surprise announcement revealing its decision to list Bitcoin Cash on its platform, despite having previously stated that it would not support the cryptocurrency until January 2018. Traders who bought BCH before the announcement saw their assets more than double in price in just a few minutes. Naturally it did not take long for industry players to begin insinuating that Coinbase knew something about the inexplicable BCH spike just before its announcement.
Bitfury Vice Chairman George Kikvadze was one of such people.
@coinbase @gdax VERY SHADY MOVE
1) Market anticipates BCash Release Jan 1, 2018
2) BCH pumped massively on inside knowledge (no other name for this) prior to #3
3) @GDAX abruptly lists Bcash 2 weeks before January 1st
Something very wrong just happened!
— George Kikvadze ⚡ (@BitfuryGeorge) December 20, 2017
Coinbase immediately announced the launch of an internal investigation, promising to get to the bottom of the matter. To this end the company hired two "well known national law firms" to check whether any of its employees took part in such practises.
Not Out Of The Clear Yet
Following months of investigation by the law firms, the all-clear comes as a boost to Coinbase, which stood to suffer a great amount of reputational damage as a result of the matter.
The company is eager to point out that the probe completely cleared Coinbase employees of all insider trading allegations and recommended no further action.
In a statement released to Fortune, Coinbase said:
“We would not hesitate to terminate an employee or contractor and/or take appropriate legal action if evidence showed our policies were violated. We can report that the voluntary, independent internal investigation has come to a close, and we have determined to take no disciplinary action.”
The company however is not quite out of the woods yet. In March 2018, Arizona resident Jeffrey Berk filed a class action lawsuit alleging professional negligence on the part of Coinbase. The suit seeks a payout of at least $5 million to Berk and other investors like him.
It also places attention on the so-called "Coinbase Effect" where a listing announcement for any digital asset on the exchange results in sharp price increases, such as with Ethereum Classic in June 2018.
Bitcoin Cash 'Scandal' Timeline
July 2017 - Coinbase announces that it will not support BCH and advises investors to redeem their funds.
August 2017 - Coinbase announces partial support for BCH.
December 20, 2017 - Bitcoin Cash records a sudden price spike due to a sharp and unexpected rise in demand from South Korea.
December 20, 2017 - Coinbase makes a surprise announcement informing the market that it is listing Bitcoin Cash
December 20, 2017 - Accusations of insider trading begin to surface as investors and observers smell a rat.
December 20, 2017 - Coinbase announces that it has launched an internal investigation into insider trading accusations.
March 2018 - Arizona resident Jeffrey Berk files a class action lawsuit against Coinbase in the US District Court for the Northern District of California seeking a payout of more than $5 million on allegations that Coinbase tipped off its employees about its decision to list Bitcoin Cash, enabling them to carry out insider trades ahead of the listing announcement.
Featured image from Coinbase.