Ex-Coinbase Exec Pleads Not Guilty to Insider Trading

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  • Ex-coinbase exec Ishan Wahi has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to insider trading
  • Wahi is accused of profiting by sharing privileged information on token listings with others
  • His lawyer argued that cryptocurrencies don’t fall within insider trading laws

The former Coinbase product manager who is accused of insider trading while with the company has pleaded not guilty to the charge. Ishan Wahi was arrested last month after the Department of Justice (DoJ) accused him of passing on information regarding upcoming token listings on Coinbase to his brother Nikhil Wahi and his friend, Sameer Ramani. Wahi tried to leave the country but was arrested at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as he was about to board a flight to India.

Wahi Allegedly Passed Over Listing Details

Wahi and his accomplices are alleged by the DoJ to have profited from Wahi’s knowledge of upcoming coin listings to the tune of $1.5 million, with the pair acting on Wahi’s privileged information between August 2021 to around May this year to make money off the listing pumps.

The issue was raised by a Twitter user earlier in 2022 when they spotted tell-tale buying and selling activity with several decentralised wallets, leading to Coinbase investigating and asking to speak to Wahi about it. Wahi agreed to meet but instead tried to flee, after claiming to colleagues that he had already left the country.

Crypto Doesn’t Count, Says Lawyer

Wahi pleaded not guilty to two counts of wire fraud conspiracy and two counts of wire fraud in a Manhattan federal court yesterday, with his counsel, David Miller, saying that the charges should be dismissed because insider trading needs to involve securities or commodities, which cryptocurrencies are not. This, of course, is a whole other kettle of fish.

Miller added that Coinbase tested new tokens before it publicly listed them, meaning the information Wahi was accused of sharing was not confidential, although this seems on the surface to be a less than convincing argument.

Nikhil Wahi has also been arrested, but Ramani remains at large.