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Wall Street Journal Slapped with Defamation Suit Over Tether, Bitfinex Article

Wall Street Journal Slapped with Defamation Suit Over Tether, Bitfinex Article

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The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is facing a defamation suit by Christopher Harborne and AML Global Ltd. over false accusations of fraud, money laundering, and terrorist financing in a March 2023 article. 

Christopher Harborne, a minority stake owner in Bitfinex, and AML Global filed a defamation claim against the Wall Street Journal. The lawsuit relates to a March 2023 article about Tether and Bitfinex, in which the WSJ reportedly made false accusations of fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing. 

Christopher Harborne and AML Global Reportedly Wrongly Accused

According to a lawsuit filed in a Delaware Court on February 28, Christopher Harborne and his company, AML Global, were wrongly accused by WSJ of “committing fraud, laundering money, and financing terrorists – even though the Journal and its reporters knew and possessed documentation that conclusively showed that those accusations are false.” 

Harborne, the owner of the Thai-based aviation fuel broker, is suing the WSJ for defamation, claiming the media platform falsely accused him of abetting allegedly illegal activities at Tether and crypto exchange Bitfinex in an article published in March 2023. The article, “Crypto Companies Behind Tether Used Falsified Documents and Shell Corporations to Get Bank Accounts,” claimed $USDT stablecoin issuer Tether and Bitfinex were “struggling to maintain their access to the global banking system.” The WSJ article said in response, “Some of their backers turned to shadowy intermediaries, falsified documents and shell companies to get back in, documents show.” 

The WSJ continued by saying:

“The companies opened new accounts by using established business executives and tweaking company names.”

The publication added that some of the accounts engaged in illegal behaviour. 

The defamation suit stated that while Harborne is a minority stake owner in Bitfinex, he holds no managerial positions. Harborne owns roughly 12% of Bitfinex. 

Tether CEO Sets the Record Straight, and WSJ Removes Reportedly Inaccurate Sections

Shortly after the article was published, Tether CEO Paolo Ardoino posted on X (formerly Twitter) that the article contained “misinformation and inaccuracies.” 

The article, which primarily focused on Tether and Bitfinex’s alleged efforts to preserve ties to the banking section, was edited to remove mention of Harborne and his company AML.

The WSJ published an editor’s note on February 21, 2024 stating:

“A previous version of this article included a section regarding Christopher Harborne and AML Global, which applied for an account at Signature Bank. The section has been removed to avoid any potential implication that AML's attempt to open an account there was part of an effort by Tether, Bitfinex or related companies to mislead banks, or that Harborne or AML withheld or falsified information during the application process.” 

A spokesperson for the WSJ commented on the defamation suit:

“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.”

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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