Cryptocurrency, Coinbase–On the heels of a rumor by CNBC Crypto Trader Ran Neuner that Coinbase will soon announce its initial public offering, the U.S. based cryptocurrency exchange received some positive news in relation to last year’s accusation over insider trading.
In August 2017, Bitcoin Cash made its official hard fork from the original Bitcoin source code. For investors who kept their coins on exchanges such as Coinbase, the air drop of forked coins was not made immediately available. However, Coinbase promised investors that BCH would be supported by the exchange by the end of the year, which included the coins they were due at the time of the fork. However, Coinbase failed to specify a date for adding to the currency to the exchange–for obvious reasons surrounding a pump and dump–and lacked a clear protocol for adding new currencies.
In the interim, cryptocurrency hit a massive bull run that saw the total market cap rise from around $200 billion to over $800. In addition, Coinbase received a flood of new investors that outpaced exchange resources, at one point being reported to have over 13 million customers, which put it above long time stock brokerage Charles Schwab. The combination of overexposure to cryptocurrency, flood of new investors, and the bullish fever that overtook the markets culminated in the Bitcoin Cash listing on the exchange in the final weeks of December 2017. Rather than adding the coin in a contained manner, one in which the price remained relatively stable in the hours prior to the listing, BCH skyrocketed to nearly double its value during the 24 hours preceding the addition.
While Coinbase has held to its position that the price pump for Bitcoin Cash was merely coincidental–and does have a valid point in that the company stated the addition would occur before the end of the year–many investors have cried foul over how the issue was handled. For one, the Bitcoin Cash listing brought an abrupt end to the bullish run in BTC value, as investors jumped ship to ride the pumping brice of BCH. In addition, the massive increase in value of BCH in the day leading up to the exchange listing point to some form of insider knowledge, either by employees of Coinbase looking to capitalize on their insight into the company’s actions, or colleagues of Coinbase employees who were tipped off ahead of the listing.
In an internal review conducted throughout this year and released in July, Coinbase claims that no insider trading occurred during the Bitcoin Cash listing, stating that they found no instances of employees or their acquaintances unfairly benefiting from the news. According to documents published on Oct. 23, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria from the Northern District Court of California has agreed with the exchange by throwing out a case accusing the exchange of insider trading.
According to motion, plaintiff Jeffrey Berk of Arizona did “not sufficiently articulate the legal bases for his claims” in the lawsuit, leading the Judge to dismiss the case ahead of going to trial. In a decision that could have broader implications for other lawsuits against Coinbase, the judge believed that the exchange had conducted appropriately according to the conditions available,
“Berk fails to describe the scope or content of Coinbase’s duty in anything more than broad generalities. A reader of the Complaint is thus left wondering what Coinbase should have done differently, or why the rollout of Bitcoin Cash would have gone more smoothly had Coinbase done whatever Berk thinks is appropriate.”