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In a surprising turn of events, a French court has acquitted two individuals accused of hacking Platypus Finance, an Automated Market Maker (AMM) protocol on the Avalanche blockchain, and stealing $8.5 million, as reported by Le Monde.

The suspects, identified as brothers Mohammed and Benamar M., were apprehended just a week after the February 2023 hack. Their arrest followed leads from crypto investigator ZachXBT and assistance from the cryptocurrency exchange Binance, which guided French authorities to the duo.

Mohammed, aged 22, faced multiple charges related to the hack, while Benamar was accused of receiving stolen goods. Prosecutors had initially pushed for a five-year imprisonment for Mohammed.

However, the court cleared the brothers after Mohammed claimed he was an “ethical hacker.” He argued that his intention was to return the stolen funds to the protocol, hoping to earn a 10% reward on the total amount. During the flash loan attack, Mohammed inadvertently locked away millions from the stolen sum, managing to retrieve only about $270,000. Meanwhile, Platypus Finance salvaged $2.4 million in USDC through its countermeasures.

The tribunal judges ruled that Mohammed’s access to a publicly available smart contract did not constitute unauthorized computer system access. They also determined that exploiting a vulnerability in Platypus’s “emergency withdrawal” smart contract did not amount to fraud.

Consequently, the charges of money laundering and receiving stolen goods were also dropped. However, the court warned the brothers that Platypus Finance could still pursue civil litigation and emphasized that the acquittal should not be seen as unconditional approval of their actions.