The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Avraham Eisenbergon on January 20 with fraud and market manipulation against the Mango Market cryptocurrency exchange.
- In October, Eisenbergon speculated on the governance token MNGO, causing its value to increase by 23 times. He then pulled his futures in Mango and turned $5 million into $116 million, nearly all of the money in the Mango Market exchange.
- He would give back a significant portion of that but walk away with $49 million in crypto. He reportedly fled the country for Puerto Rico afterward and is facing extradition.
- He has admitted to this chain of events, but his lawyers argue that what he did wasn’t illegal, Axios reports. Although the SEC is claiming MNGO counts as a security and thus, he can be charged with stealing from the marketplace through manipulation.
- Eisenbergon even bragged about his actions on Twitter, saying, “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.”
- “As our action shows, the SEC remains committed to rooting out market manipulation, regardless of the type of security involved,” says SEC chief of crypto David Hirsch.
Why It’s News
The event may highlight the ongoing necessity for tighter crypto regulation, especially if the SEC struggles to prove MNGO qualifies as a security.
As we previously reported, almost every government agency and several crypto firms have advocated for more structured or tightened policies around cryptocurrencies. The calls preceded the collapse of FTX in November but grew more intense after the exchange destroyed billions of dollars in wealth during its insolvency crisis. There is ongoing disagreement about how crypto should be regulated, though.
Backing Up A Bit
Mango isn’t the first crypto exchange to see issues within the last 12 months. The past year has seen numerous significant collapses in the crypto market, including FTX, Terra, Luna, Three Arrows Capital, Voyager Digital, Celsius, and BlockFi.
Commentators are comparing Mango to the collapse of FTX, noting how that exchange was initially damaged by rival exchange Binance speculating on the value of its governance token FTT, before collapsing and going bankrupt. Mango Market did not collapse, but it was rendered temporarily insolvent, DeCrypt notes.