Coinbase Insider Seeks 10-month Prison Term

Ex-Coinbase product manager Ishan Wahi files to get a shorter prison sentence, less than two weeks before his sentencing hearing

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Source: Shutterstock / blurAZ, modified by Blockworks

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Ishan Wahi, the ex-product manager at Coinbase accused of insider trading, is requesting a moderate prison sentence for charges relating to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

His sentencing will be determined and made known on May 9.

In January, his brother and co-conspirator, Nikhil Wahi, was sentenced to a 10-month prison term for his involvement in a scheme to profit from insider knowledge of Coinbase listings.

In an April 25 memorandum, attorneys for Ishan Wahi asked a US court to impose a similar sentence, requesting for one that would be consistent with those given to defendants in similar situations within the district.

The lawyers painted a positive portrait of Wahi, highlighting traits such as generosity and kindness. They also presented testimony from Wahi’s girlfriend Bianca Habib, grandmother Mohini Chopra and friends, all of whom indicated that he regrets his actions.

“The defendant respectfully submits that a sentence of no more than 10 months incarceration, together with several other consequences of Ishan’s conviction, would impose a sufficient, but not excessive, punishment for the crimes of conviction,” they said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced insider trading charges against the Wahi brothers and their friend Sameer Ramani in July 2022. According to the agency, the defendants were aware of multiple upcoming crypto assets that would be added to Coinbase’s platform, and made the decision to trade ahead of the official announcement at least 14 times.

These illicit traded resulted in profits worth more than $1.1 million. Wahi’s employment with Coinbase was terminated in July 2022. 

According to the memorandum, Wahi has been working as a virtual tutor since Sept. 2022, while volunteering his time with Seattle Community College. He’s also been tutoring high school students in India, helping them prepare for the Scholastic Assessment Tests (SATs). 

Both brothers attempted to have the insider trading charges against them dismissed by arguing that the assets they traded did not meet the definition of securities under the Howey Test. Coinbase also denied that the nine tokens they traded could be considered as securities.

However, their attempts were unsuccessful.

After pleading guilty to charges, Wahi earlier reached a plea deal with prosecutors that called for a sentence of imprisonment ranging between 36 and 47 months.


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