How Early LUNA Holders, Founders Made Off With $6B

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The Terra (LUNA) crash will go down in crypto history as one of its most catastrophic events. Billions of people lost their life savings and investments. In the meantime, a small group of insiders benefited.

Related Reading | LUNA Classic Jumps 90% Following Support From Crypto Exchanges

According to a report from Arcane Research analyst Anders Helseth, the Terra (LUNA) ecosystem, now known as Terra Classic, operated as a long-term “pump and dump” scheme.

The analyst looked into on-chain activity to support his claims and found revealing information on the distribution of LUNC and its value inflows, how the token supply moved from one group of addresses to another, from exchange platforms from 2020 to a few days before the crash.

The analyst called the Terra Classic ecosystem the “perfect exit liquidity” for early LUNA holders. This scheme was supported by the high popularity in the Anchor Protocol, the UST (Terra Classic’s algorithmic stablecoin) and LUNA mint mechanism, and this token’s supply.

As seen below, the LUNA supply was “highly concentrated” by Terraform Labs (TFL), Terra Classic’s developing company co-founded by Do-Kwon. Excluding exchange platforms, TFL controlled over 537 million LUNA tokens as of October 3, 2020.

Source: Arcane Research

The analyst claims unidentified wallets founded by Terraform Labs, the largest LUNC holder, moved their funds to “bridges and centralized exchanges”. The funds began moving in late 2020 and “frequently” saw transactions from TFL to as many as 3,000 unidentified wallets.

A total of $6 billion in net outflows were recorded between Terraform Labs to these wallets to bridges/exchanges. As seen below, these funds were later transferred to the “others” group of wallets.

In other words, according to the analyst’s research, Terraform Labs seemed to have moved their LUNA supply to exchanges where they were bought by retail investors. The “others” wallets saw $6.5 billion in net inflows.

Source: Arcane Research

Did The LUNA Crash Made Billions To Early Investors?

In theory, $6.5 billion is the profit scored by TFL and early LUNC investors, but the analyst believes the number could be much higher. The report claims the following:

Therefore, we have reason to believe that the potential for creating outside profits was larger than the $6 billion net flow that’s calculated based on the assumption that portions of the early deposits of LUNAto exchanges were not sold.

Thus, the report claims the Terra Classic ecosystem, levering the popularity and the upside volatility on the price of LUNA (LUNC), created “exit liquidity” for these investors. The analyst concluded the following on the alleged mechanism that enabled early LUNC investors to transfer value to retail investors:

By pumping the LUNA token, the burn/mint mechanism, and creating a sustained demand for the UST token through Anchor, the perfect exit liquidity for large LUNA bags was created (…). At best, the profits can be described as collateral winnings in a failed bootstrapping attempt.

Related Reading | Daily Pump & Dump | May 31, 2022 Crypto Market Report

At the time of writing, LUNA trades at $9 with a 3% loss on the 4-hour chart.

LUNA Terra
LUNA trends to the downside on the 4-hour chart. Source: LUNAUSDT Tradingview
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