A group of four men controlled 86% shares of the largest stablecoin in 2018, according to documents reportedly viewed by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Tether’s owners include an odd bunch from varied backgrounds but lacking extensive financial experience, the WSJ reported.
Giancarlo Devasini — a former plastic surgeon — joined forces with child actor turned entrepreneur Brock Pierce to incorporate Tether Holdings Ltd. in the British Virgin Islands in 2014. Pierce left soon after and Devasini now serves as Tether’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
As of 2018, Devasini controlled 43% of Tether shares, according to the WSJ report. Devasini is the chief shot caller at Tether, the report said. When Pierce wanted to buy back some of his ownership stake in Tether in 2017, Tether executives discussed the potential benefits but the decision was vetoed by Devasini, according to emails viewed by WSJ.
Blockchain Capital, a venture capital fund co-founded by Pierce eventually bought a small stake in Tether.
Close ties between Bitfinex and Tether
Tether and crypto exchange Bitfinex — which touts itself as one of the oldest exchanges — share the same top executives. Devasini, an Italian citizen, also serves as the CFO and chief decision-maker at Bitfinex.
Jean-Louis van der Velde, a Dutch man who has spent most of his life in Asia, is the CEO of both Bitfinex and Tether. Devasini and van der Velde used to be electronics importers and resellers before the two firms were established.
Tether and Bitfinex also have a common general counsel, Stuart Hoegner — a Canadian. Both Hoegner and van der Velde held 15% of Tether each in 2018, according to the documents.
After Bitfinex was hacked in 2016, Tether established its fourth major owner — a businessman with dual British and Thai citizenship who goes by Christopher Harborne in the U.K. and Chakrit Sakunkrit in Thailand. Harborne, a political mega-donor in the U.K., came to own roughly 12% of Tether.
The four men collectively owned 86% of Tether directly through their holdings and another related company, according to the report.