Former Coinbase Manager Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy Charges

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Former Coinbase Global Inc. product manager Ishan Wahi has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ). 

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After Nikhil Wahi was charged with receiving insider trading tips and sentenced to 10 months in prison, his brother, Ishan Wahi, pleaded guilty today in the Southern District of New York to conspiracy charges. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in the statement released by the Department of Justice:

(…) Ishan Wahi – a former Coinbase product manager – admitted in court today that he tipped others regarding Coinbase’s planned token listings so that they could trade in crypto assets for a profit.

First Insider Trading Case To Admit Guilt

The investigation conducted by the Southern District of New York revealed that on multiple occasions between June 2021 and April 2022, Ishan Wahi breached his duties of trust and confidence to Coinbase by disclosing confidential business information that he learned in the course of his employment with the crypto exchange.

In July 2022, prosecutors charged the Wahi brothers and another suspect, Sameer Ramani,, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud using confidential information from Coinbase. Prosecutors concluded that Wahi made nearly $1.5 million in profits by illegally trading ahead of 40 different Coinbase announcements.

Prosecutors found that Ishan Wahi, in concert with his brother Nikhil Wahi and Sameer Ramani, secretly executed profitable trades around Coinbase’s public announcements. In that way, the Wahi brother profit from listing specific crypto assets on Coinbase’s exchanges.

Following Coinbase’s public listing announcements, Nikhil Wahi, and Sameer Ramani sold the crypto asset for a profit on multiple occasions. 

Accordingly, in his role at Coinbase, Wahi was involved in the highly confidential process of listing crypto assets on Coinbase’s exchanges and had detailed and advanced knowledge of which crypto assets Coinbase planned to list.

According to the report, Coinbase kept such information confidential and prohibited its employees from disclosing it to anyone, including providing a “tip” to anyone who might trade on the information.

In May 2022, Ishan Wahi purchased a one-way flight to India shortly before the then-product manager had to attend an interview with Coinbase. Between booking the flight and his departure, Wahi called and texted Nikhil Wahi and Sameer Ramani about Coinbase’s investigation and received messages from the company’s Director of Security Operations, per information released by U.S. authorities

Justice Has Been Served?

After boarding a flight to India scheduled for May 16, 2022, Wahi was stopped by law enforcement and prevented from leaving the United States.

Ishan Wahi, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on each count. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams concluded: 

(…) “The Southern District of New York has decades of experience pursuing insider trading cases, and we will continue to use our expertise to prosecute this crime no matter what form it takes and where it occurs.”

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The case is being handled by the office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Noah Solowiejczyk and Nicolas Roos.

COIN shares are experiencing a retracement on the 4HR chart. Source: COIN TradingView

With a market capitalization of $18.4 billion, COIN stocks started the year on an uptrend, as did stocks and crypto assets, on the back of easing monetary policy and expectations of avoiding a recession in the United States. 

COIN stock is trading at $70.24 per share, a retracement of 4.75% in the last 24 hours and down 6.33% in the last 7 days.

Featured image from Unsplash, chart from Trading View.

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