SEC charges former Coinbase employee with insider trading

By:
on Jul 21, 2022
  • The SEC has charged former Coinbase product manager Ishan Wahi with insider trading.
  • Two other people are also charged with the breach of trading laws, in a scheme that ran for nearly a year.
  • Defendants allegedly profited from 25 token listings on Coinbase, pocketing more than $1.1 million (£836,890.0

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged a former Coinbase employee with insider trading, according to a press statement published on Thursday.

The securities regulator’s complaint is against Ishan Wahi, a former product manager at Coinbase, who allegedly perpetrated a scheme to benefit from confidential (insider) information about upcoming token listings on the US-based cryptocurrency exchange.

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Also charged alongside Wahi is his brother Nikhil Wahi and friend Sameer Ramani, the SEC statement noted.

Scheme netted $1.1 million

The charges allege that Ishan Wahi, while employed at the crypto platform, coordinated public token listing announcements, including what crypto assets were being considered for trading.

But while all the details related to upcoming listings was confidential, and that all employees were aware and warned against using it to trade, or tip others, the former product manager ignored this and passed the information to his brother and friend.

The SEC alleges this happened between June 2021 and April 2022.

Token listing announcements and eventual support for trading has often seen prices of given crypto assets rally prior, which is what the three capitalised on, the agency said.

Noting that “Ishan repeatedly tipped the timing and content of upcoming listing announcements to his brother, Nikhil Wahi, and his friend, Sameer Ramani,” the SEC said the three coordinated on at least 25 tokens. The sale of the tokens shortly after Coinbase listing netted more than $1.1 million (roughly £836,890.00).

The SEC said it’s charging the defendants with a breach of insider trading laws as several of the tokens involved are securities. The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has also initiated criminal charges against Ishan and his accomplices.

Investigations are ongoing, the SEC has noted, and more could come to light during the litigation.

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