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French Court Clears Platypus Finance Attacker of Charges

A recent ruling by a French court has sparked controversy and disappointment within the cryptocurrency community. On December 1st, the court ruled in favor of Mohammed and Benamar M, the suspects arrested in February 2023 for their involvement in an attack targeting the DeFi protocol Platypus Finance on Avalanche, resulting in damages of approximately 8.3 million euros (over 9 million USD).

The court’s decision was based on a crucial distinction: the hackers did not intrude into Platypus Finance’s system but exploited vulnerabilities within the project’s smart contract. This distinction was deemed insufficient to constitute criminal wrongdoing.

During the trial, the hackers presented an argument asserting their intent was altruistic. Upon discovering flaws in Platypus’ lending mechanism while researching the project, they exploited these flaws to withdraw funds, intending to return them to the project and claim a reward. However, due to an operational error, 7.8 million euros were inadvertently transferred to an inaccessible wallet. The remaining amount was withdrawn to a personal wallet and further laundered through mixers to conceal the origin.

The prosecution labeled this as blatant theft, recommending a 5-year prison sentence for Mohammed M and a suspended 6-month sentence plus a fine of 20,000 euros for accomplice Benamar M.

Despite the prosecution’s stance, the court sided with the defense, contending that the hackers leveraged vulnerabilities within a computer system, “yielding a higher value than the initial programming.” They emphasized that the suspects did not breach Platypus’ internal system but interacted solely with the smart contract provided by the project. Consequently, the court did not deem this as hacking or criminal conduct. Charges of money laundering and concealing illegally obtained assets were also dismissed.

However, while the court ruled in favor of Mohammed and Benamar M, it did not acknowledge the defense’s prior claim of a well-intentioned attack. The court highlighted the hackers’ obligation to return the borrowed funds and left room for Platypus Finance to pursue civil charges.

The verdict has left many in the cryptocurrency community disappointed, with several expressing their dismay on platforms like Twitter. The Paris criminal court’s decision not to hold the perpetrators of the Platypus Finance attack accountable under French criminal law has stirred controversy and raised questions about the legal ramifications of protocol hacks within the cryptocurrency space.

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