Two Individuals, Including A Former Pharmaceutical Executive, Plead Guilty To Participating In Insider Trading Scheme Surrounding Alexion Pharmaceuticals’ Acquisition Of Portola Pharmaceuticals
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that NATHANIAL CHASTAIN, a former product manager at Ozone Networks, Inc. d/b/a OpenSea (“OpenSea”), was sentenced today to three months in prison in connection with a scheme to commit insider trading in Non-Fungible Tokens, or “NFTs,” by using confidential information about which NFTs were going to be featured on OpenSea’s homepage for his personal financial gain. CHASTAIN was previously convicted at trial of wire fraud and money laundering.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Nathanial Chastain faced justice today for violating the trust that his employer placed in him by using OpenSea’s confidential information for his own profit. Today’s sentence should serve as a warning to other corporate insiders that insider trading – in any marketplace – will not be tolerated.”
According to court filings and statements made in court:
As part of his employment, CHASTAIN was responsible for selecting NFTs to be featured on OpenSea’s homepage. OpenSea kept confidential the identity of featured NFTs until they appeared on its homepage. After an NFT was featured on OpenSea’s homepage, the price buyers were willing to pay for that NFT, and for other NFTs made by the same NFT creator, typically increased substantially. In violation of the duties of trust and confidence he owed to his employer, OpenSea, CHASTAIN exploited his advanced knowledge of what NFTs would be featured on OpenSea’s homepage for his personal financial gain.
From approximately June to September 2021, CHASTAIN used OpenSea’s confidential business information about what NFTs were going to be featured on its homepage to secretly purchase dozens of NFTs shortly before they were featured. After those NFTs were featured on OpenSea, CHASTAIN sold them at profits of two- to five-times his initial purchase price. To conceal the fraud, CHASTAIN conducted these purchases and sales using anonymous digital currency wallets and anonymous accounts on OpenSea.
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In addition to the prison term, CHASTAIN, 31, of New York, New York, was sentenced to three months of home confinement, three years of supervised release, a $50,000 fine, and ordered to forfeiture the Ethereum he made trading the featured NFTs.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas S. Burnett, Allison Nichols, and Nicolas Roos are in charge of the prosecution.