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The trial of an OpenSea crypto product manager might set stage for subsequent cases

A defense attorney testified on Monday, as an insider trading trial came to a conclusion, that a former product manager at OpenSea, the largest market for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), was never informed that his decisions over which assets to highlight on its homepage were confidential information.

The trial of an OpenSea crypto product manager might set stage for subsequent cases

Nathaniel Chastain was accused by federal prosecutors in Manhattan last year of purchasing NFTs that he had decided to highlight on the marketplace's website, then making more than $50,000 in illegal profits by selling them shortly after.

The Manhattan office of the U.S. Attorney called the charges against Chastain the first insider trading prosecution involving digital assets, and it was the first in a number of high-profile cases involving digital assets that it had started last year.

According to legal experts, the case may have wider ramifications for assets that do not fall within the current laws prohibiting investment advisers, brokers, and others from trading on important nonpublic information.

Chastain's attorney, Daniel Filor, did not contest that his client made the trades. However, he claimed in his closing remarks on Monday that no one at the business had ever prohibited him from using or disclosing information regarding which NFTs would be featured on the homepage.

"This isn't Wall Street merger and acquisition information," Filor said the jurors. "Nate’s choices in his head about which NFT to feature weren’t considered by OpenSea to be confidential back then."

One count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering are brought against Chastain.

Chastain traded the NFTs using anonymous accounts, according to prosecutor Thomas Burnett, which indicated that he was aware of the illegality of what he was doing. According to Burnett, "He was using OpenSea's information like his own piggy bank. It was as good as free money."


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