The former product manager of the OpenSea platform knew which of the NFT collections would be advertised on the home page of this site. And was buying them up in advance for resale
Prosecutors have won the first ever U.S. insider trading lawsuit involving digital assets. A former employee of NFT marketplace OpenSea has now been found guilty of using confidential information to make a profit.
A jury found former platform product manager Nathaniel Chastain guilty of fraud and money laundering. In contrast, insider trading litigation centered on securities fraud charges. Then Chastain was charged with wire fraud. This allowed prosecutors to sidestep the issue of classifying NFTs as an asset, not yet spelled out in the law.
Chastain, 32, was responsible for selecting the NFT section of Trending. These are the images that were posted on the front page of OpenSea’s home page. Getting NFTs into that section of the site usually resulted in an immediate jump in their price. According to the charge, OpenSea kept information about the NFT collections secret. Which were chosen to be displayed on the home page. But Chastain, in possession of this information, bought up dozens of the right images in advance. And when he published them in the Trending section, he immediately sold them at several times the purchase price, violating the confidentiality agreement.
The prosecution alleges that Chastain profited over $57,000 in ETH cryptocurrency from the scheme. The defendant himself claims that he never converted the proceeds into dollars. Consequently, he made no profit.
In September 2021, Chastain was asked to resign after his activities became visible both internally. And to outside observers in the crypto community. Who analyzed sales and tracked wallet transfers at the expense of blockchain transparency. The company then introduced a policy prohibiting employees from buying or selling NFTs. As long as they are displayed on the home page of the site.
Our experts note that Chastain was arrested in June 2022. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each count. Although he will likely end up with a much lesser sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for August 22.
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