Avi Eisenberg May Testify in $110M Crypto Fraud Trial, Defense Says

Crypto trader Avi Eisenberg may testify at his criminal commodities fraud and manipulation trial, his defense team said Thursday. They have yet to make a final decision on the matter as the government’s case nears its conclusion.

The 28-year old crypto trader could face as much as a 20-year prison sentence if the 15-person jury convicts him on all three counts stemming from his October 2022 trades on the DeFi trading platform Mango Markets, which netted him at least $110 million in various cryptocurrencies. The government seeks to portray that trade as an illegal windfall from market manipulation, while the defense calls it a legitimate trading strategy.

Prosecutors are nearing the end of their week-long case against Eisenberg. On Thursday, they called a special agent and an expert witness that walked the jury through how Eisenberg allegedly drove up the price of MNGO tokens on AscendX, FTX and Serum in order to inflate the value of perpetual contracts he was trading on the Mango Markets decentralized exchange. Then, they said, he borrowed or withdrew well over $100 million from the exchange.

The government’s case against Eisenberg hasn’t yet arrived at the aftermath of that trade, when Mango Markets founder Dafydd Durairaj negotiated the return of $67 million to the platform and in exchange promised not to seek charges against him. Prosecutors on Thursday told the court they were no longer planning to call Durairaj to the stand.

That turnabout complicated the defense’s plan to question him under oath even though they have not yet served Durairaj a subpoena. Lead defense attorney Sanford Talkin asked Judge Arum Subramanian if the court could force Durairaj’s counsel Rafael Yakobi to accept a subpoena on his client’s behalf.

Edited by Stephen Alpher.


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