MakerDAO Users Hosed by March Flash Crash Won’t Get MKR Payouts, Say MKR Whales

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MakerDAO will not compensate victims of March 12’s “Black Thursday” flash crash that left some of the decentralized finance (DeFi) platform’s investors out $8.33 million, according to a vote that closed Tuesday. The Maker community had initially voted in early April to refund sunken investors. 

Nearly six months later and the community – represented by current holders of Maker’s MKR governance tokens – concluded a final vote to give zero compensation for lost funds. Some 65% of votes opted for zero compensation, with the next two options for partial compensation receiving 18% and 15%, respectively.

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The vote itself was dominated by large MKR holders. Only 38 unique votes were cast, equivalent to 8.74% of MKR token holders, with the low turnout reflecting some of the current difficulties associated with governance in the booming DeFi sector.

Stepping back, many Maker users had collateral positions for outstanding loans liquidated after a sudden, mid-March crash in the price of ether (ETH). Additionally, investors were unable to maintain positions because of a backlog of transactions on the Ethereum blockchain as investors sought to flee the COVID-driven market collapse.

The one-two punch was preyed upon by market making bots that exploited the flaw to the tune of 2.4 million ETH. Broken logic in the platform’s collateral liquidation engine could be exploited under the right conditions to gobble up collateral on the cheap.

Investors have since lobbied the community for partial compensation denominated in the platform’s MKR governance token. All options included in Tuesday’s vote included MKR as the compensation vehicle. (Early on, affected investors had pushed for ETH.)

Yet, participating MKR holders were incentivized to vote against the compensation as any additional printing of MKR tokens would dilute the value of their holdings. Many community members said as much in the MakerDAO forum. 

Litigation against the Maker Foundation in the form of a class-action lawsuit continues regardless of the vote’s outcome, said Adam S. Heder, the Harris Berne Christensen LLP attorney representing MakerDAO’s Black Thursday investors.

Lead plaintiff Pete Johnson filed three counts against the Maker Foundation in April including negligence, intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation. He and joining members of the suit are seeking up to $28.35 million in compensation.

“The parties have submitted briefing on the Maker Defendants’ motion to compel arbitration. We don’t know yet when the Court will issue its ruling,” Heder said via email.

The Maker Foundation declined to comment.

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