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An early investor in Olympus claims he was defrauded of millions of OHM tokens when essential smart contracts were made inoperable.
A complaint filed on Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut says that the co-founders of the OlympusDAO decentralized finance (DeFi) project defrauded an early investor of over $4 million in OHM tokens, which are now valued at least $20 million.
In what may be a first-of-its-kind test of the limitations of pseudonymity in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), the lawsuit identifies a Connecticut resident as "Apollo," one of Olympus's pseudonymous co-founders.
CoinDesk has reached out to Daniel Bara, the guy listed in the case, for comment but has not independently confirmed the identity of the alleged Apollo.
In the last year, the Ethereum-based OlympusDAO project has been one of the most controversial and controversial experiments to join the world of DeFi.
Through a combination of memes and game theory, the initiative attempted to build its own OHM coin as a digital reserve currency, but its price infamously plummeted 95 percent this winter.
According to CoinMarketCap, the current price of an OHM coin is $28, down from a peak of $1,300 in October.
Australia-based investor Jason Liang, who filed the case on Thursday, claims he pledged to promote OlympusDAO and paid $50,000 in DAI (a stablecoin based on the U.S. dollar) in return for 4 million pOHM, a forerunner to OHM. According to a post on Olympus Medium, investors such as Liang were then able to coin 1 OHM for 1 DAI and 1 pOHM.
In his lawsuit, Liang claims that the Olympus team penalized him by rendering inoperable the smart contracts that allowed him to redeem pOHM for OHM after he began selling part of his Olympus tokens.
The capacity of the Olympus team to interfere with essential smart contract functions, according to Liang, challenges assertions that the project is decentralized.
The complaint claims that the Olympus team employed pseudonyms to shield its members from culpability.
Liang claims that a token purchase agreement (TPA) between him and Olympus stipulated that the private investment funds would go to a nonexistent firm. According to the complaint, with the identity of Olympus’s creators concealed, the lack of a legally established corporation behind the campaign made it harder for investors like Liang to pursue legal action against the initiative.
According to the lawsuit, Liang’s legal team discovered Apollo by doing a reverse phone number check on a number Apollo used to call Liang. Liang initially believed that the name on the token purchase deal was fictional, but the person behind the phone number corresponds with the signature on the document.
Joseph B. Evans, an attorney for Liang, stated in an email to CoinDesk, “There is a legal and appropriate method to administer a DAO. That’s not it. It appears that some companies continue to assume that their creators and promoters may evade accountability by hiding behind screen identities, social media handles, and fictional businesses. My client provided Olympus with much-needed start-up funding, and he is entitled to a portion of its success.
When OlympusDAO was founded a year ago, the project’s innovative bonding and staking mechanisms promised investors rewards over 10,000 percent annualized return (APY). OHM holders were urged to engage with Olympus’ smart contracts based on a set of game theory ideas “memeified” by the project’s community for the system to function.
Theoretically, “hodling,” purchasing, and staking OHM would ensure stable, sky-high profits for the community. Selling, as Liang did, was blasphemy. OlympusDAO was immediately labeled a Ponzi scam by many loud detractors. Yet, the DAO inspired an entire “DeFi 2.0” movement, with KlimaDAO and WonderlandDAO launching their high-yield token systems.
OlympusDAO has become one of the most popular decentralized financial initiatives, but its designers, “Zeus” and “Apollo,” have stayed secret (possibly until now, in Apollo’s case).
Pseudonymity of a project’s primary contributors is not commonplace in DAOs, and it has been presented as a means for a decentralized community to maintain meritocracy.Liang’s complaint shows there are further motives for DAO designers to conceal their identity. The case comes a few months after the pseudonymous inventor of OlympusDAO’s largest branch, WonderlandDAO, was revealed to be a notorious convicted crook.