Former Coinbase Product Manager Ishan Wahi has been sentenced to 2 years in prison for insider trading with cryptocurrencies after pleading guilty earlier this year. This landmark case is significant and exceeds the 10-months prison sentence of Ishan’s brother, Nikhil Wahi, with whom he conspired for the crime.
Two Years for Crypto Insider Trading
According to a report from Reuters, Ishan Wahi was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in a Manhattan Federal court on Tuesday.
The sentence follows a guilty plea from Wahi back in February to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Preska stated that his scheme was a “massive abuse” of Coinbase’s trust – America’s largest cryptocurrency exchange which has been subject to a plethora of customer and government-launched lawsuits over the past year.
Wahi was arrested and charged by the Department of Justice last July for having tipped his brother alongside his friend Sameer Ramani with information about upcoming coin listings at Coinbase that had not yet been made public. Analysis has shown that listings on large crypto exchanges often have a dramatic effect on an asset’s price
The group’s scheme netted them around $1.5 million in total across 55 different token announcements between June 2021 and April 2022, according to prosecutors.
During the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Noah Solowiejczyk stated the ten months of consistent tips demonstrated that Wahi’s actions were “not a one-off mistake”. Meanwhile, Judge Preska added the attempt of Wahi and the co-defendants to cover their actions proved they knew what they were doing was wrong.
A “Huge Mistake”
Ishan Wahi said, “I made a huge mistake that will follow me for the rest of my life.” His comment echoed his brother Nikhil’s statement from back in January, who said his mistake was “something that I will have to live with forever” after pleading guilty to his respective charges.
Initially, Ishan Wahipled not guilty to wire fraud charges shortly after they were announced, but he eventually followed his brother’s lead and pleaded guilty in February.
Wahi requested a sentence no longer than his brother’s within court papers, citing other insider trading cases where lawbreakers were given little prison time. Prosecutors called for Wahi to receive three years in prison to set an example for other crypto exchange insiders misusing their privileged information.
OpenSea’s Head of Product was similarly charged with NFT Insider Trading in June – but the ex-employee has since filed to have those charges dropped.