U.S. Charges Former Coinbase Manager in First Crypto Insider Trading Case

Written by:
Aaron Goldstein
Published on:

On Thursday it was revealed that a former product manager of the popular digital currency exchange Coinbase, a publicly traded company, had been charged with wire fraud in the first insider trading case involving cryptocurrency.


Ishan Wahi, along with his brother Nikhil Wahi, were arrested Thursday in Seattle.  Both were to have appeared in a hearing later that day.

A third man, Sameer Ramani of Houston, remained at large, federal authorities said.  He faces U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil charges.

The indictment said Ishan Wahi, an Indian citizen, was stopped by law enforcement before boarding a May 16 flight to his home country and was prevented from leaving the U.S.

Prosecutors claim that the 32-year-old Ishan Wahi shared confidential information about forthcoming announcements of new cryptocurrency assets that Coinbase would allow users to trade through its exchange.

"Fraud is fraud is fraud, whether it occurs on the blockchain or on Wall Street," Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement.

Andrew St. Laurent, a lawyer for Ishan Wahi, failed to comment regarding this matter.  Lawyers for the other two men charged did not offer a comment either.

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"A system of gambling regulation, in isolation, would be unlikely to address these risk factors. It would also not be equipped to deal with insider dealing, market manipulation, predatory short selling and many other behaviours which can manifest themselves in both cryptoasset markets as well as traditional financial services markets."