A former worker of NFT market OpenSea didn’t persuade a decide that expenses levied towards him ought to be dismissed, clearing the way in which for his trial to proceed.
Nate Chastain, former head of product at OpenSea, has been charged with wire fraud and cash laundering. The federal government alleges that Chastain illegally profited off the sale of NFTs in 2021.
Chastain was answerable for deciding which NFTs could be featured on the trade’s homepage. With this authority and data, the indictment alleges he bought sure NFTs earlier than they had been featured after which flipped them for a revenue as soon as their worth had elevated.
Prosecutors additionally claimed that Chastain had arrange pockets addresses to carry the NFTs and funnel earnings again to himself.
Ex-OpenSea Exec Argues NFTs Are Not Securities to Dismiss Insider Buying and selling Fees
OpenSea determined to half methods with Chastain final month after it had been made conscious of the investigation. It additionally sought the assistance of a 3rd get together to “conduct an intensive evaluate of the incident and make suggestions on how we will strengthen our present controls,” based on a weblog publish by the corporate.
Chastain had moved to have the costs dismissed, placing forth a sequence of arguments that finally didn’t sway the decide within the case, based on a courtroom doc reviewed by Decrypt.
Chastain argued that the data he allegedly misappropriated is “not ‘property’ throughout the which means of the statute,” and that the wire fraud expenses ought to be dismissed. He additionally argued that he didn’t commit wire fraud as a result of doing so necessitates “the existence of buying and selling in securities or commodities,” which at the moment doesn’t embody NFTs.
With reference to cash laundering, he claimed that the federal government “seeks impermissibly to criminalize the mere motion of cash” and didn’t sufficiently show the concealment and monetary transaction parts of cash laundering expenses.
In denying the movement for dismissal, the decide referenced a courtroom case the place a reporter from the Wall Avenue Journal entered right into a scheme with merchants, tipping them off on the contents and timing of articles earlier than they had been revealed and sharing within the ensuing earnings.
“The columnist and merchants had been charged with, and convicted of, each securities fraud and mail and wire fraud,” the doc acknowledged. “So, not ‘insider coaching’ as conventionally understood, however undoubtedly ‘wire fraud,’” learn the response.
The decide did concede that the usage of the time period “insider buying and selling” could also be deceptive and mentioned the suitable response could be to strike the phrase from the indictment and forestall the federal government from utilizing the time period at trial.