Charlie Lee, who created the cryptocurrency litecoin in 2011, announced on Tuesday night that he has sold off all his litecoin in order to avoid accusations of anything untoward.
The move came right after Coinbase added bitcoin cash to its platform (and to GDAX, its separate institutional exchange) and was swiftly accused of insider trading because the price of bitcoin cash soared a few hours before Coinbase’s announcement. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong announced in a blog post that Coinbase will investigate whether any of its employees engaged in insider trading with their knowledge that the site would be adding bitcoin cash.
Charlie Lee is the former director of engineering at Coinbase. He left the company this year to focus on litecoin full-time. In a post on Reddit late on Tuesday night, he wrote (bolding ours):
“Whenever I tweet about Litecoin price or even just good or bad news, I get accused of doing it for personal benefit. Some people even think I short LTC! So in a sense, it is conflict of interest for me to hold LTC and tweet about it because I have so much influence. I have always refrained from buying/selling LTC before or after my major tweets, but this is something only I know. And there will always be a doubt on whether any of my actions were to further my own personal wealth… For this reason, in the past days, I have sold and donated all my LTC. Litecoin has been very good for me financially, so I am well off enough that I no longer need to tie my financial success to Litecoin’s success. For the first time in 6+ years, I no longer own a single LTC that’s not stored in a physical Litecoin. (I do have a few of those as collectibles.) This is definitely a weird feeling, but also somehow refreshing. Don’t worry. I’m not quitting Litecoin. I will still spend all my time working on Litecoin.”
Lee added that he wrote the Reddit post “before the Bcash on GDAX/Coinbase fiasco.”
He did not divulge how many coins he sold or how much he made, but said, “I can tell you that the amount of coins was a small percentage of GDAX’s daily volume and it did not crash the market.”
At 3 a.m. EST, Lee again tweeted out his Reddit post and added, “Satoshi Nakamoto, your move.” Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym that the original creator (or creators) of bitcoin used in 2009, and some fear that Satoshi still holds a massive amount of bitcoin and could crash the market if they unloaded all at once.
Satoshi Nakamoto, your move. https://t.co/efKxK3coV4
— Charlie Lee [LTC] (@SatoshiLite) December 20, 2017
Litecoin is built off bitcoin’s source code, and like bitcoin, operates on a blockchain. Lee has said he intended litecoin to be the silver to bitcoin’s gold.
But there are a few technical differences between litecoin and bitcoin: litecoin’s network is faster than the bitcoin blockchain (mining a “block” of litecoin transactions takes an average 2.5 minutes compared to bitcoin’s 10 minutes); litecoin transaction fees are lower; and litecoin has a supply cap of 84 million coins, compared to bitcoin’s 21 million.
Litecoin is up more than 7,000% in 2017 through Dec. 20.
Disclosure: The author owns 1 litecoin, purchased in 2016 for reporting purposes.
Daniel Roberts covers bitcoin and blockchain at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.