New research has shed more light on the crypto industry’s largest token sale of all time, claiming that a foul may have been underway during EOS’s Initial Coin Offering (ICO) four years ago.

University of Texas researchers have raised new concerns about Block.one’s record $ 4.362 billion ICO for the EOS blockchain in 2017 and 2018. The highly anticipated project was supported by industry heavyweights including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and billionaire hedge fund managers Alan Howard and Louis Bacon. The investigation does not accuse Block.one of wrongdoing itself, and the company cited a report saying there was no evidence to back it up.

On Tuesday, Austin McCombs School of Business Professor John Griffin and financial analyst Integra FEC published their findings in a paper entitled “Were ETH and EOS During the EOS Initial Coin Offering?” – claims that the laundry trade played a key role in EOS ‘pricing.

According to the paper and in an investigation by Bloomberg, EOS was allegedly traded on the Binance and Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchanges to artificially raise prices. Wash trading describes the process by which a company acts as a buyer and seller of the same asset at the same time to artificially increase volume or manipulate prices.

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

“Firstly, it manipulated EOS’s offer price directly upwards through the additional purchases and inflated the token’s market value. Second, it gave the wrong impression of the value of the token, which led others to buy the ICO token. “

The investigation allegedly identified 21 accounts that recycled EOS tokens during the ICO. The funds identified as suspicious at the time amounted to 1.2 million ethers (ETH) valued at around 815 million US dollars. Ether was the only cryptocurrency that EOS was used to buy during the year-long ICO.

The analysis claims that Ethereum accounts were created to buy EOS over and over again over time. It is alleged that a “significant portion” of the ether collected during the token sale “appears to have been recycled by transferring the ICO contributions through a series of obfuscating intermediate accounts and eventually arriving at Bitfinex”.

“2.895 million ethers (1.721 billion US dollars) or 39% of the ether collected in the crowdsale are also traced back to Bitfinex from the ICO crowdsale wallet.”

Griffin neither identified the owners of the accounts nor pointed a finger at Block.one in relation to the alleged wash trading, but stated, “These suspicious accounts accounted for nearly a quarter of EOS purchases by the end of the crowdsale.”

Robert C. Hockett, a law professor at Cornell Law School, said he worked on the story for more than a month with media company Bloomberg, which released its findings Thursday.

Worked with the Bloomberg pals on this one for a month. Quite a remarkable story. Vulgar securities scandals from the time before 33 are now apparently roughly recapitulated in the crypto space. https://t.co/Ogu5nSf6oF

– Robert Hockett (@ rch371) September 2, 2021

According to Bloomberg, Block.one responded to the paper by referring to a July document penned by the law firm Clifford Chance LLP claiming there was “no evidence that Block.one bought tokens in the primary market”.

Related: Startup Darling EOS cashes millions from ETH while ICO contempt continues

The same John Griffin published a paper in October 2019 entitled “Is Bitcoin Really Un-Tethered?” which claimed that the leading stablecoin Tether (USDT) was laundered to affect Bitcoin (BTC) prices during the 2017 bull market. In a conversation with Cointelegraph in February 2020, the company behind Tether, iFinex, described the claims as “inconsiderate and false”.

Tampering or otherwise, EOS has largely fallen out of favor with crypto traders and investors. Since EOS was among the top five crypto assets by market capitalization in mid-2018, it has since fallen to 35th place.

The token is currently trading for $ 5, a 77% decrease from its all-time high of $ 22.70 in April 2018.