The Justice Division filed cash laundering fees in June towards Nate Chastain, the previous head of product at the most well-liked NFT market OpenSea, in what the company referred to as the “first ever digital asset insider buying and selling scheme.”
However in a movement filed Friday in New York federal court docket, Chastain requested a choose to dismiss the fees forward of the trial primarily based on what his attorneys argue are flaws within the DOJ’s case towards him. He argues that he shouldn’t be charged as a result of NFTs don’t match the definition of both securities or commodities—phrases that type a key a part of the wire fraud and cash laundering statutes that Chastain allegedly violated.
The Division of Justice didn’t instantly reply to Fortune’s request for remark.
The case activates allegations that Chastain bought NFTs primarily based on his function in selecting which of them could be featured on OpenSeas’ homepage—after which bought them for as much as 5 instances the value. After Twitter sleuths referred to as out suspicious transactions tied to Chastain, OpenSea launched an investigation and Chastain resigned.
The previous OpenSea head of product was charged with one rely of wire fraud and one rely of cash laundering, every carrying a most sentence of 20 years in jail, in keeping with a June press launch by the DOJ.
Though the DOJ’s June press launch labeled the fees as insider buying and selling, David B. Hoppe, the managing companion and founding father of blockchain-focused Gamma Regulation, instructed Fortune in June that the case is totally different from different situations of insider buying and selling. As an alternative of specializing in publicly traded securities, as is frequent for insider buying and selling, the fees towards Chastain give attention to an alleged abuse of firm info, which the DOJ says violated the duties he needed to his employer.
Chastain’s attorneys argue within the movement filed Friday that insider buying and selling fees leveled towards Chastain needs to be dropped partially as a result of NFTs don’t match the invoice to be securities or commodities—some extent which the federal government has conceded, in keeping with the movement. This designation is a vital component of an insider buying and selling cost, primarily based on the Carpenter wire fraud concept, deriving from the 1987 case of Carpenter v. United States, Chastain’s attorneys stated within the movement.
The attorneys added that, particularly, the wire fraud cost also needs to be dropped as a result of in keeping with latest Supreme Court docket precedent, the definition of “property” by way of a wire fraud case have to be one thing that is ready to be bought or distributed by its proprietor, in keeping with the movement. Chastain’s attorneys declare that his choices on which NFTs to function on the entrance web page of OpenSea don’t have any discernible financial worth and are primarily based on Chastain’s ideas.
“Allowing the federal government to increase the scope of the wire fraud statute to succeed in such ethereal and intangible pursuits would serve to overextend the already farreaching fraud statutes, criminalize run-of-the-mill civil employment disputes, and sow uncertainty into the general public’s notion of the statute’s limitations,” attorneys for Chastain wrote within the submitting.
As a result of the transactions came about on the Ethereum blockchain, which is public and searchable, Chastain’s attorneys additionally argue that any transactions he made can’t be charged as concealment cash laundering.
“As alleged within the Indictment, the defendant did nothing greater than transfer cash in an apparent and perceptible method,” the movement stated. “The straightforward and manifest motion of cash, nevertheless, doesn’t represent cash laundering.”
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