Former Coinbase product manager charged with wire fraud

62
2
Former Coinbase product manager charged with wire fraud

A former product manager at Coinbase Global and two others have been charged with wire fraud, U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan said on Thursday.

Ishan Wahi, the product manager at the cryptocurrency exchange, and his brother Nikhil Wahi, who was arrested on Thursday, were arrested in Seattle.

The two others, their friend, Sameer Ramani, also face U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil charges. Ramani is at large.

The lawyer for Ishan Wahi, 32, said he is innocent of all wrongdoing and intends to defend himself fiercely. A lawyer for Nikhil Wahi has not responded to requests for comment. Reuters could not immediately identify a lawyer for Ramani.

Prosecutors say Ishan Wahi shared confidential information about future announcements of new cryptocurrency assets that Coinbase would allow users to trade through its exchange.

They also said Ishan Wahi bought a one-way ticket to India after a Coinbase security director summoned him to the company's Seattle office for a meeting. Prosecutors say law enforcement barred him from boarding the flight on May 16.

In his initial appearance in Seattle federal court, Wahi was ordered to surrender his passports, and he was ordered to surrender his passports. Prosecutors did not demand that he be detained despite his alleged attempt to flee. His next court appearance is scheduled for next Aug. 2 in Manhattan.

The SEC alleges that Nikhil Wahi, 26 and Ramani, 33, bought and sold at least 25 crypto assets for a profit, nine of which the agency said were securities.

The SEC said its investigation was ongoing and declined to say whether it would pursue action against Coinbase for listing the tokens deemed securities in the complaint.

Wahi and Ramani were alleged to have traded the assets and at least 14 times before Coinbase's announcements from June 2021 and April 2022, generating at least $1.5 million of illicit gains, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, Damian Williams, said in a statement that the federal grand jury has found him guilty of a variety of misdemeanor charges.

Coinbase's chief security officer, Philip Martin, said the company had shared findings from an internal investigation into trading.

Martin wrote on Twitter in an interview with The New York Times.

Coinbase acknowledges that the SEC filed separate securities fraud charges against Ishan and Nikhil Wahi, as well as Ramani, but notes that federal prosecutors did not charge securities fraud.

's appropriate law enforcement action,' the blog post said.

Last month, federal prosecutors charged a former product manager at OpenSea, the largest online marketplace for non-fungible tokens, with insider trading in what the prosecutors described as the first such case involving digital assets.