US prosecutors have pressed criminal charges against a man accused of attempting to steal some $110 million last October by rigging crypto exchange Mango Markets, an entity run by the Mango decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). The individual is suspected of commodities fraud and manipulation.
A complaint signed by an FBI agent and made public in a Manhattan federal court accuses Avraham Eisenberg of performing trades in futures related to Mango’s native token MNGO that allowed him to withdraw about $110 million worth of crypto from other investors’ deposits without visible intention to repay the funds, Reuters reported.
The man was arrested on December 26 in Puerto Rico, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a court filing. The December 23 complaint said that, last October, Eisenberg on used two accounts to buy and sell futures based on the relative values of MNGO and USD Coin (USDC).
By acting on both sides of the trades, Eisenberg artificially inflated MNGO’s price with regards to the stablecoin. This enabled him to borrow and then withdraw $110 million worth of different cryptos, according to the complaint.
The exchange soon initiated talks with Eisenberg which eventually paved the way for a settlement to recoup $67 million.
“After the transfer described, members of the Mango DAO voted to approve the October 13, 2022 proposal described above. Following that approval, multiple cryptocurrency wallets sent the Mango DAO approximately $57 million worth of cryptocurrency, in addition to the 10 million USDC that Mango DAO had already received,” the FBI agent testified in the complaint. “Members of Mango DAO and Mango Markets did not receive the rest of the cryptocurrency that had been taken, which amounted to approximately $40 million worth of different cryptocurrencies.”
Eisenberg has claimed responsibility for the trading, but also declared that, in his opinion, he did not commit a crime.
“I believe all of our actions were legal open market actions, using the protocol as designed, even if the development team did not fully anticipate all the consequences of setting parameters the way they are,” he said in a tweet. “Unfortunately, the exchange this took place on, Mango Markets, became insolvent as a result, with the insurance fund being insufficient to cover all liquidations. This led to other users being unable to access their funds.”
This said, Eisenberg’s “posts on Twitter Account-1 show that he was aware of the laws prohibiting market manipulation,” according to the law enforcement officer. Shortly after the alleged market manipulation took place, the man fled from the United States to Israel, the complaint said.