Coinbase Insider Trading: Nikhil Wahi Gets Jail
WASHINGTON, DC (IANS) – Nikhil Wahi, accused of receiving insider trading information from his brother Ishan Wahi, a former project manager at crypto exchange Coinbase, has been sentenced to 10 months in prison.
The US authorities in July last year charged the brothers and their Indian American friend Sameer Ramani, 33, of Houston with wire fraud conspiracy by using confidential information from Coinbase and making $1.5 million in illicit money.
Nikhil, 26, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to reports.
Ishan, 32, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of insider trading and Ramani remains at large.
Both Ishan and Ramani stare at a maximum sentence of 20 years each.
The Wahi brothers were arrested in Seattle, Washington State, where they were living, and presented in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Ishan worked at Coinbase as a product manager assigned to a Coinbase asset listing team starting in October 2020.
He 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 was planning to list and the timing of public announcements about those crypto asset listings.
According to the US authorities, on at least 14 occasions, Ishan knew in advance both that Coinbase planned to list crypto assets and the timing of its public announcements of those asset listings.
He misappropriated that Coinbase confidential information by tipping either his brother, Nikhil or Ramani, “so that they could place profitable trades in those crypto assets in advance of Coinbase’s public listing announcements”.
The defendants made illegal trades in at least 25 different crypto assets and realized ill-gotten gains totaling approximately $1.5 million.
To conceal their purchases of crypto assets in advance of Coinbase listing announcements, Nikhil and Ramani used accounts at centralized exchanges held in the names of others and transferred funds, crypto assets, and proceeds of their scheme through multiple anonymous Ethereum blockchain wallets.
“Nikhil and Ramani also regularly created and used new Ethereum blockchain wallets without any prior transaction history in order to further conceal their involvement in the scheme,” the US Justice Department had said.