Insider trading charges have started to hit the crypto markets. Easily the biggest story yet in this topic came in recent months, with the indictment of former OpenSea head of product, Nate Chastain. The gavel is impending once more this week, as the brother of an ex-Coinbase manager has pled guilty to a wire fraud conspiracy charge.
Let’s take a look at the events that led to today’s guilty plea, and reasonable expectations moving forward.
When The Hammer Drops: Insider Trading Charges
In a virtual court hearing before Manhattan Judge Loretta Preska, 26-year-old Nikhil Wahi admitted guilt to a wire fraud conspiracy charge centered around Wahi’s engaged trading based on knowledge of confidential Coinbase information. Prosecutors argued that Nikhil’s brother, Ishan Wahi, shared insider information with Nikhil, as well as their friend Sameer Ramani about then upcoming crypto listings. Listings on Coinbase frequently saw a price run-up prior to being announced as a Coinbase-supported token. Both Nikhil Wahi and Sameer Ramani utilized insider info to acquire the assets prior to list “at least 14 times before Coinbase announcements in June 2021 and April 2022,” according to reports. Prosecutors stated that those trades amassed gains north of $1.5M.
Wahi told the judge that he “knew that it was wrong,” and the guilty plea, which is slated for sentencing in December, will result in Wahi being deported to his home country of India. His brother, ex-Coinbase employee Ishan Wahi, has pleaded not guilty and has a March 2023 court date. Ramani, who also faces charges, was based in Houston but has not been located.
Coinbase’s Listing Process Continues Questioning
Kim argued that Cobie’s framing of the Coinbase token listing situation was disingenuous, or implied that Cobie’s relationship with FTX (who sponsors his ‘Up Only’ podcast) clouds his ability to evaluate or judge Coinbase’s circumstances fairly – Cobie’s reply is simply that “Coinbase is incompetent,” and that his impacts of helping expose actual insider trading speak for themself.
Coinbase (COIN) has had a rocky ride since going public to start the year. | Source: NASDAQ: COIN on TradingView.com
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