Manipulação causou alta histórica do preço do bitcoin, aponta estudo

Pesquisadores da Universidade do Texas apontaram que a alta histórica do valor do bitcoin alcançada em dezembro do ano passado, quando a moeda virtual chegou a valer quase US$ 20 mil, foi uma fraude. De acordo com o estudo divulgado ontem (13), a criptomoeda estável tether pode ser a grande responsável por inflar artificialmente o preço do bitcoin.

A pesquisa realizada pelo professor John Griffin e pelo estudante Amin Shams, ambos do Departamento de Finanças da universidade estadunidense, afirma ter identificado padrões que sugerem aumento intencional no preço do bitcoin dentro da exchange Bitfinex, uma das maiores do mundo, mesmo quando a moeda era desvalorizada em outras casas de câmbio.

Usando algoritmos, eles identificaram o uso intenso de tether, uma criptomoeda criada e vendida pela Bitfinex, para influenciar o mercado de bitcoin. Essa moeda teria sido mais utilizada do que o dólar em grandes compras realizadas sempre antes de momentos de valorização massiva do bitcoin, provavelmente na tentativa de simular demanda e, com isso, aumentar artificialmente o preço da moeda virtual mais famosa do mundo.

Vale lembrar que o estudo não traz qualquer comprovação factual sobre o envolvimento direto da Bitfinex na manipulação de preços, apesar de a moeda supostamente utilizada para isso ser emitida e comercializada por ela. A freada no avanço do valor do bitcoin coincide, inclusive, com o momento em que o tether deixou de ser emitido, afirmam os pesquisadores.

Manipulação e investigação

No ano passado, durante a alta recorde da criptomoeda, alguns players do mercado suspeitaram da Bitfinex e a companhia chegou a ser intimada pelas autoridades comerciais dos EUA a fim de prestar esclarecimentos. Recentemente, o Departamento de Justiça dos EUA iniciou uma investigação para apurar justamente possíveis aumentos artificiais de preço das moedas virtuais, entre elas o bitcoin.

No início de 2018, um estudo identificou uma fraude na exchange Mt. Gox, uma das primeiras a dominar o mercado de bitcoin. Segundo a pesquisa, 600 mil bitcoins foram adquiridos de maneira fraudulenta a fim de causar alta no preço da moeda ainda em 2013, quando ela valorizou de US$ 100 para mais de US$ 1 mil em apenas dois meses.

Bitfinex nega envolvimento

Em nota enviada ao The New York Times, o presidente da Bitfinex Jan Ludovicus van der Velde, nega qualquer envolvimento tanto de sua empresa quanto da criptomoeda emitida por ela. “A entrega de tether não pode ser usada para elevar o preço do bitcoin ou de qualquer outra moeda/token na Bitfinex”, afirmou. Em outras ocasiões, revela a publicação, ele também já havia negado qualquer participação em procedimentos irregulares.

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