A federal jury in New York yesterday (Thursday) convicted Avraham ‘Avi’ Eisenberg, a crypto trader, for fraud and market manipulation in carrying out a $110 million heist from the decentralized cryptocurrency exchange Mango Markets. It was the first conviction in a cryptocurrency market manipulation case.

Jail Time Ahead

He is now facing substantial prison time: the commodities fraud count and the commodities manipulation count against him each carry a maximum imprisonment of 10 years, while the count of wire fraud has a maximum sentence of up to 20 years. His sentencing is scheduled for July 29.

“This ground-breaking prosecution epitomizes this office’s ability to employ innovative methods and cutting-edge law enforcement tools to continue to protect all financial markets,” said US Attorney Damian Williams.

A $110 Million Heist

In October 2022, Eisenberg used two accounts to sell a large number of perpetual contracts of Mango’s crypto token MNGO from one of his accounts to the other, thus artificially inflating the price by 1,300 percent in under an hour. He then used the token as collateral to borrow $110 million in other cryptocurrencies from Mango Markets and quickly withdrew the funds. In doing so, he essentially withdrew all the cryptocurrencies deposited on the DeFi platform.

Later, he negotiated a settlement with Mango Markets and agreed to return $67 million to the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) governing the protocol. He was arrested in December 2022 in Puerto Rico.

In court, the defense lawyers tried to convince the jury that Eisenberg’s trades on Mango Markets were “successful and legal” and “fully complied” with the decentralized protocol’s scant rules. However, the jury sided with the prosecutors’ portrayal of it as a “brazen” fraud and manipulation.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission also brought civil fraud and market manipulation charges against Eisenberg.

“Manipulative trading puts our financial markets and investors at risk,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole Argentieri. “This prosecution—the first involving the manipulation of cryptocurrency through open-market trades—demonstrates the Criminal Division’s commitment to protecting U.S. financial markets and holding wrongdoers accountable, no matter what mechanism they use to commit manipulation and fraud.”

This article was written by Arnab Shome at www.financemagnates.com.



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