Mango Markets exploiter trial heads to jury

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A jury has begun deliberations for charges related to market manipulation and fraud following an alleged $110 million exploit of the Mango Markets decentralized exchange by Avraham “Avi” Eisenberg.

On April 17 in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Richard Berman excused the jury for the day following closing arguments by prosecutors and defense attorneys. The individuals will continue deliberations tomorrow on whether to find Eisenberg guilty of commodities fraud and commodities manipulation after a two-week trial.

In October 2022, Eisenberg allegedly executed a series of large purchases on Mango Markets to artificially raise the price of the token relative to USD Coin (USDC), then withdrew the assets from the platform. U.S. authorities arrested Eisenberg in Puerto Rico in December 2022, claiming he “willfully and knowingly” engaged in a scheme involving manipulating the price of perpetual futures on Mango Markets.

During closing arguments on April 17, Eisenberg’s lawyers argued that he did not commit any crimes but orchestrated a “successful and legal trading strategy” resulting in roughly $110 million in gains. Prosecutors claimed he “had to lie” to remove funds from Mango Markets, suggesting fraud was part of his plan.

“My client […] fully complied with the Mango Markets smart contracts,” said Eisenberg’s attorney, according to reporting from Inner City Press. “He withdrew his own capital. It wasn’t a borrow. And the rest of the money? He returned shortly afterwards. They called Avi brazen. That’s not a crime. He didn’t hack into Mango Markets.”

Following the exploit, Eisenberg returned $67 million worth of crypto to Mango Markets but claimed he had obtained the remainder of the funds legally.

“He had control of $110 million,” said defense attorneys. “But he was seeking to return the funds. Maybe you wouldn’t have done it. But this is how people do it in this world of cryptocurrency. He sent $67 million. What was kept were the profits.”

Related: Mango Markets heist like a fake diamond ring scam: Prosecutor

A jury could come back with a verdict in the case as early as April 18. Reports have suggested that Eisenberg could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. He has been held in custody since January 2023.

In addition to the criminal charges, Eisenberg faces civil action brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Both cases have been stayed until the conclusion of the criminal trial.

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