New research claims 21 accounts pumped the $4.4B EOS ICO with wash trades

New research has shed more light on the crypto industry’s largest-ever token sale, alleging that foul play may have been afoot during EOS’s initial coin offering (ICO) four years ago.

Researchers from the University of Texas have raised fresh concerns regarding’s record $4.362 billion ICO for the EOS blockchain in 2017 and 2018. The highly-anticipated project was backed by industry heavyweights including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel alongside billionaire hedge fund managers Alan Howard and Louis Bacon. The research does not accuse itself of any wrongdoing and the company has cited a report stating there was no evidence it was involved.

On Aug. 31, Professor John Griffin of the Austin McCombs School of Business and financial analysis firm Integra FEC published their findings in a paper titled “Were ETH and EOS Repeatedly Recycled during the EOS Initial Coin Offering?” — alleging that wash-trading played a key role in EOS’s price discovery. Bloomerbe

According to the paper and outlined in an investigation by Bloomberg, EOS was allegedly wash-traded on the Binance and Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchanges in an effort to artificially inflate the prices. Wash-trading describes the process where an entity simultaneously acts as the buyer and seller at the same asset to artificially bolster volume or manipulate prices.

Griffin wrote that artificial demand from suspect accounts created the illusion of demand for the token and pushed prices up:

“First, it directly manipulated EOS’s offering price upward through the extra buying and inflated the market value of the token. Second, it created the false impression of value of the token which enticed others to want to purchase the ICO token.”

The research allegedly identified 21 accounts that recycled EOS tokens during the ICO. Funds identified as suspect amounted to 1.2 million ETH worth around $815 million at the time. Ether was the sole cryptocurrency used to buy EOS during the year-long ICO.

The analysis claims that Ethereum accounts were created in order to repeatedly purchase EOS over time. It claims that a “significant portion” of the Ether raised during the token sale appears to have been “recycled by transferring the ICO contributions through a series of obfuscating intermediary accounts and finally arriving at Bitfinex.”

“2.895 million Ether ($1.721 billion USD), or 39% of the Ether raised in the crowdsale, are also traced from the ICO crowdsale wallet back to Bitfinex.”

Griffin did not identify the owners of the accounts or point the finger toward regarding the alleged wash-trading, but noted: “These suspicious accounts accounted for almost a quarter of EOS purchases by the end of the crowdsale.”

Professor of law at Cornell Law School, Robert C. Hockett, said that he worked for more than one month on the story alongside media outlet Bloomberg — which published its findings on Sept. 2.

According to Bloomberg, responded to the paper by referencing a July document authored by law firm Clifford Chance LLP that asserted there was “no evidence that purchased tokens on the primary market.”

Related: Startup Darling EOS Cashes In Millions Of ETH As ICO Scorn Continues

The same John Griffin published a paper in October 2019 titled “Is Bitcoin Really Un-Tethered?” that claimed the leading stablecoin Tether (USDT) was wash traded to influence Bitcoin prices during the 2017 bull market. Speaking to Cointelegraph in Feb. 2020, the firm behind Tether, iFinex, labeled the claims “reckless and false.”

Manipulation or otherwise, EOS has largely fallen out of favor with crypto traders and investors. Since ranking among the top five crypto assets by market cap in mid-2018, EOS has since tumbled to rank 35th by capitalization.

The token currently trades for $5, down 77% from its April 2018 all-time high of $22.70.


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Derivatives data shows pro traders turning bullish on EOS price

EOS rallied in May after, a blockchain software firm, announced a $10 billion funding round to build an EOS-based crypto exchange platform called Bullish. The EOSIO development company revealed that it had raised capital from Peter Thiel and Mike Novogratz, as well as hedge fund managers Alan Howard and Louis Bacon.

In light of the ‘bullish’ news, the recent $6 local top stands 60% below the $15 high reached on May 12, and this leaves investors with little reason to celebrate. At the moment, retail traders are not comfortable using leverage for bullish positions and professional traders have been neutral-to-optimistic since mid-July.

EOS price in USD at Kraken. Source: TradingView

Analysts also pointed to a May 2 report commissioned by that suggested an increase in the inflation rate from 1% to somewhere between 1.2% and 3.8%. The new issuance rate would be necessary to increase financial incentives for voters and block producers.

However, the lack of deliveries and partnerships caused EOS to quickly lose steam, and the price fell to a low at $3.04 on June 22. The bearish trend ended on June 23, as the little-known ‘Bullish’ exchange said it would be going public on the New York Stock Exchange via a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

A positive and lasting trend initiated as the ‘Bullish’ exchange released its private alpha version on July 27 and promised a full launch later in 2021. The project also mentioned that it would have spot trading, margin trading, and liquidity pools.

Finally, on Aug. 19, EOS announced free access to live pricing data using real-time market information provided by AlgoTrader. The Swiss-based startup oracle includes multiple assets from various exchanges and can create synthetic instruments, derivatives, and stablecoins.

Retail traders were momentarily bullish

To understand whether traders are leaning bullish as EOS price holds the $5 support, one should analyze the perpetual contracts futures data. This is the retail traders’ preferred leverage instrument because its price usually perfectly tracks the regular spot markets. There is also no need to manually roll over contracts nearing expiry, as required on quarterly futures.

In any futures contract, trade longs (buyers) and shorts (sellers) are matched at all times, but their leverage varies. Consequently, exchanges will charge whichever side is using more leverage at a funding rate to balance their risk, and this fee is paid to the opposing side.

Neutral markets tend to display a 0% to 0.03% positive funding rate, equivalent to 0.6% per week, indicating that longs are the ones paying it.

EOS perpetual futures 8-hour funding rate. Source:

Data reveals a modest excitement building up from Aug. 8, which lasted less than 10 days. The positive funding rate shows that longs (buyers) were the ones paying the fees, but the movement seems reactive to the price increase and faded as EOS failed to breach the $6 resistance.

Data shows pro traders have a bullish bias

It is also useful to analyze the premium quarterly futures contracts, as whales and arbitrage desks trade such instruments more frequently. In the fixed-month contracts, eventual demand imbalances are reflected by a price difference versus regular spot markets.

Healthy markets should display a 0.5% to 1% premium, which is equivalent to 3% to 6% annualized. If the futures contract’s premium is nonexistent, it is a bearish indicator because investors are not comfortable creating long positions using leverage.

Related: Bitcoin’s race to $50K heats up as solid institutional backing continues

EOS Sept. futures contracts premium at FTX. Source: TradingView

There has been no change in the 6% annualized premium this time despite EOS’s price movement. However, data shows that professional traders have been slightly bullish since mid-July, while retail traders were primarily flat apart from a brief 10-day period.

Although it remains unclear how the ‘Bullish’ exchange launch might impact the price of EOS, derivatives indicate that whales and arbitrage desks positively reacted to the news and have kept the bullish stance ever since.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.