Donald Trump criticized crypto multiple times during his eventful single term as President of the United States. He continued to do so afterward. Last year, Trump declared his intention to again run for the presidency in 2024. This widely expected announcement was followed by the unexpected release of a series of Donald Trump NFT cards.
Considering politicians often say one thing and then act otherwise, DailyCoin gathered the publicly available facts that tie the former President and current candidate to the cryptocurrency space.
Anti-Crypto Rhetoric: What Has Donald Trump Said About Bitcoin?
The 45th President has been skeptical of cryptocurrencies since his days in the White House. He regularly expresses his opinion on Bitcoin and other digital currencies via tweets and media interviews, criticizing BTC as a scam against the United States dollar.
His first unambiguous social media message appeared in July 2019. Trump said unregulated cryptos were “not money,” “based on thin air,” and could facilitate unlawful behavior.
In 2021, having already completed his presidential term, Trump named Bitcoin a scam following the news of El Salvador legalizing the coin. By the end of the same year, the media-savvy mogul shared a negative opinion on crypto and its adoption, saying digital currencies were a “very dangerous thing.”
NFT Cards Followed the Presidential Run
On November 15, 2022, Trump, who had two impeachment trials while at the White House, announced his run for the presidency in 2024.
Weeks after launching his campaign, the scandal-prone billionaire surprised the crypto space with another “major announcement.” It was a non-fungible token (NFT) collection featuring Donald Trump decked out in the garb of a cartoon superhero, cowboy, and astronaut. “America needs a superhero,” Trump told his 4.93 million followers.
Available on OpenSea, one of the biggest NFT marketplaces, Donald Trump’s digital trading cards collection was, and still is, traded via cryptocurrencies. OpenSea’s website confirms that the core currency is Ethereum (ETH), and none of the fiat payments remain possible on the platform.
Despite Trump’s skeptical opinion on crypto, his NFTs immediately sold out, collecting 4,442 ETH or around $5.2 million at a time. Although it dropped drastically in value and unexpectedly resurrected in January 2023, the cards generated $19.99 million in volume by the first day of March.
This NFT collection was not the first time the Trump dynasty dabbled in tokenized assets. Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, has surpassed her spouse in that niche.
The former First Lady issued three NFT collections, starting at the end of 2022, right before her husband said cryptocurrency was “a very dangerous thing.” One of her collections sold for 1,800 SOL to a wallet that received the exact amount from the address that minted her NFTs. Crypto enthusiasts suspected a faked auction and an alleged wash trading case.
Wash trading is a form of market manipulation when a person or entity trades with itself to artificially inflate prices, create the illusion of liquidity, and generate interest from other investors.
Wash trading schemes have been considered illegal in the United States since 1936. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged two individuals for wash trading activity involving “meme stocks” in 2021.
Lifelong Client of Mazars Audit Firm
In addition to the public encounters between the Donald Trump family and the “dangerous” world of crypto, several other links are less obvious and direct. But their lack of overtness in no way means that we should ignore them. Knowing them helps us to add more details to the interconnected puzzle of power, finance, and secrecy.
Several months ago, the crypto community unexpectedly learned the name Mazars.
Mazars USA is one of the country’s largest accountancy firms. It forms part of a global network of 47,000 audit, tax, and advisory experts spanning 95 countries. The international audit, tax, and advisory firm became the center of attention due to its role as a failed auditor of the Binance crypto exchange.
After the FTX crash, Binance faced pressure to disclose its Proof-of-Reserves (PoR). Mazars helped the exchange with the audit, stating Binance is “101% collateralized” and had Bitcoin reserves valued at around $9.7 billion.
But it soon became apparent that the balance audit was incomplete without Binance’s debt and client liabilities. Mazars instantly halted collaboration with the exchange and other crypto-related clients, like Crypto.com.
Ten months earlier, before halting business with the crypto world, the international audit company cut ties with Donald Trump.
In one form or another, Mazars has been working with Trump’s family for more than three decades. The high-profile client represented around a third of the company’s total billings.
According to former employee testimonies and various legal documents cited by ProPublica, the company’s tiny, secretive, and dedicated team of accountants helped Trump solve two critical problems.
As stated, the accountancy firm helped Donald Trump pay the lowest taxes possible. Second, the company helped Trump to look much wealthier than he was in reality by inflating property values and securing favorable terms on loans he was applying for. Trump’s companies have gone through four bankrupts between the ‘90s and early ‘20s.
Mazars was subpoenaed by US institutions and was requested to disclose documents detailing Trump’s financial condition during impeachment proceedings. Instead, the company instructed Trump’s companies not to rely on the provided documents any longer due to “discrepancies” between the company’s statements and the actual value of Trump’s assets. Mazars suspended collaboration with the Trumps in February 2022.
Loans From Crypto-friendly Signature Bank
For years, Mazars linked the Trump family to Signature Bank, a rare traditional financial institution providing banking services for cryptocurrency companies.
The New York-based Signature has processed fiat currency payments for almost all major cryptocurrency exchanges via its blockchain-based digital payments platform. It entered the spotlight in January 2023 after cutting higher than $100,000 value transfers for Binance’s clients.
As of publication, another major crypto exchange, Kraken, also reported suspending US dollar deposits and withdrawals using Signature for non-corporate clients.
In December 2023, a class action lawsuit was filed against Signature, alleging that the bank “directly aided and abetted FTX’s fraud” via “first-hand participation in the commingling of funds, improper transfers, and lending out of customer money.” The class action lawsuit also stated that Signature knew and assisted Sam Bankman-Fried in his breaches of fiduciary duty.
Signature Bank has some things in common with Mazars. Consider Kathryn A. Byrne, a board member who entered the company in 2005. While working at the loan-issuing bank, she was a Group Governance Council of Mazars member. Named as a partner on Mazars’ official website, Byrne left the bank in March 2022 after 17 years of service.
Since 2009, Signature has been a lender for Donald Trump and his closest circle. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, served as a board member between 2011 and 2013. This timing coincides with the bank issuing loans to Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband. The move is often considered a conflict of interest within financial communities.
According to The New York Times, Signature was very flexible with its high-profile clients, allowing them to cash out from empty accounts. The bank ultimately closed Trump’s accounts, containing around $5.3 million, and suspended ties with him in the aftermath of the US Capitol Riot of January 2021.
There is no direct evidence linking the former president with the crypto transactions via the above-mentioned entities. DailyCoin has no intention of smearing any of the parties involved.
However, we must remember the importance of seeing the bigger picture. We must not exclude the indirect facts that often tell different stories than public proclamations.
More on cryptocurrency regulation:
Crypto Regulation: The Industry’s Number One Priority
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