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Monday, March 4, 2024

Fired Coinbase Exec Caught With Insider Trading Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison

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After pleading guilty earlier this year, former Coinbase Product Manager Ishan Wahi has been sentenced to 2 years in prison in a landmark case for insider trading with cryptocurrencies.

The sentence exceeds the 10-month prison sentence of Ishan’s brother – Nikhil Wahi – with whom he conspired for the crime.

Two Years for Crypto Insider Trading

According to a report from Reuters, Ishan Wahi was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in a Manhattan Federal court on Tuesday.

The sentence follows a guilty plea from Wahi back in February to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Preska stated that his scheme was a “massive abuse” of Coinbase’s trust – America’s largest cryptocurrency exchange which has been subject to a plethora of customer and government-launched lawsuits over the past year.

Wahi was arrested and charged by the Department of Justice last July for having tipped his brother – alongside his friend Sameer Ramani – with information about upcoming coin listings at Coinbase that had not yet been made public. Analysis has shown that listings on large crypto exchanges often have a dramatic effect on an asset’s price

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The group’s scheme netted them roughly $1.5 million in total across 55 different token announcements between June 2021 and April 2022, according to prosecutors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Noah Solowiejczyk said during the hearing that the ten months of consistent tips demonstrated that Wahi’s actions were “not a one-off mistake.” Meanwhile, Judge Preska added that Wahi and the co-defendants’ attempts at covering their actions proved that they knew what they were doing was wrong.

A “Huge Mistake”

“I made a huge mistake that will follow me for the rest of my life,” Wahi said. His comment echoed that of his brother Nikhil from back in January, who said his mistake was “something that I will have to live with forever,” after pleading guilty to his respective charges.

Ishan Wahi initially pled not guilty to wire fraud charges shortly after they were announced, but eventually followed his brother’s lead with a guilty plea in February.

Wahi requested a sentence no longer than his brother’s within court papers, citing other insider trading cases where lawbreakers were little prison time. On the other hand, prosecutors called for Wahi to receive 3 years in prison to set an example for other crypto exchange insiders misusing their privileged information.

OpenSea’s Head of Product was similarly charged with NFT Insider Trading in June – but the ex-employee has since filed to have those charges dropped.

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