In the first case involving alleged insider trading in cryptocurrencies, one of the defendants has now pleaded guilty. It is the brother of the then Coinbase product manager Ishan Wahi. “Less than two months after he was charged, Nikhil Wahi admitted in court today that he traded crypto assets and based the deal on Coinbase confidential information to which he was not entitled,” said Damien Williams of the US Attorney’s Office in New York.
It is also the first time that a suspect has declared himself guilty of such an allegation, reports the US magazine Decrypt. “Today’s admission of guilt should serve as a reminder to all those involved in the cryptocurrency markets that the Southern District of New York will continue to rigorously pursue scams of all types and adapt as technology advances,” Williams continued.
The verdict is to be announced in December – it is to be expected that Wahi will be obliged to repay the unfairly acquired profits, and there is still a risk of up to 20 years in prison, although the admission of guilt should probably have a mitigating effect here.
According to investigators, the brother who works at Coinbase is said to have passed on information about upcoming actions on the Coinbase platform. The accused then used this to invest cheaply beforehand and later to take profits from increases in the value of crypto assets. Ishan Wahi denied the allegations against him.
This may also be due to the fact that initially, it was not at all clear how the crypto assets should be treated here. After all, they are not explicitly mentioned in the laws surrounding the financial markets. However, it has already become clear that the values are treated as unregistered investments that are ultimately also subject to state regulation – if only on the basis of laws that are generally intended to protect consumers from fraud. It remains to be seen how the defense strategy of the former Coinbase manager will look in view of his brother’s confession.
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