Ex-Coinbase manager’s brother pleads guilty to insider trading charge. Let’s take a look at the events that led to today’s guilty plea.
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
The case of the Ishan and Nikhil Wahi and Sameer Ramani has been the focal point of ongoing drama and dialogue around Coinbase’s listing process, which has been a frequent point of friction for those familiar with the token landscape. This came to a head in recent days when crypto influencer Cobie got into a back-and-forth dialogue with Coinbase Wallet engineering lead Peter Jihoon Kim. Cobie’s assistance in exposing insider trading at Coinbase is largely considered a major pillar in ‘cleaning up’ the token listing process at the exchange.
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.