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The United States Department of Justice announced that former Coinbase employee Ishan Wahi pled guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The DOJ announced on Tuesday that Ishan Wahi, an ex-Coinbase product manager charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the first-ever insider trading case related to cryptocurrencies, pleaded guilty. Wahi, along with his brother Nikhil and associate Sameer Ramani, was charged by the DOJ last year with “wire fraud conspiracy in connection with a scheme to commit insider trading in cryptocurrency assets.” Wahi tipped off his brother and associate “regarding crypto assets that were going to be listed on Coinbase exchanges.” Ishan Wahi is scheduled to be sentenced on May 10 and faces up to 20 years in prison for each count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Ishan Wahi’s brother, Nikihil Wahi, was sentenced to 10 months in January and slapped with a fine of $892,500 after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement:
Whether it occurs in the equity markets or the crypto markets, stealing confidential business information for your own personal profit or the profit of others is a serious federal crime.
Accused Generated $1.5 Million in Illegal Profits
According to reports by the New York Times, Mr. Wahi began working on Coinbase’s asset listing team in October 2020, which gave him access to information about which cryptocurrency Coinbase would offer on its platform. The price of a cryptocurrency tends to go up when a major exchange such as Coinbase announces it will list it. Ishan Wahi provided information regarding these listings to his brother Nikhil and associate Sameer Ramani. According to prosecutors, the data allowed Mr. Wahi’s co-accused to execute profitable trades secretly. The three accused were estimated to be involved in trades that used information about 14 listings and generated around $1.5 million in profits.
Federal Authorities Crack Down on Crypto Industry
The case involving the Wahi brother and their associate marks the first insider trading case involving cryptocurrencies and is part of federal authorities’ global onslaught on the industry. Nicolas Roos, one of the assistant U.S. attorneys who prosecuted Ishan Wahi, is also leading the DOJ’s case against Sam Bankman-Fried.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.