Ex-Coinbase Employee Accused of Insider Trading Pleads Not Guilty

A former Coinbase employee at the heart of an insider trading case has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer claims the assets aren’t securities


Gary Gensler, Chair, US Securities and Exchange Commission | Blockworks exclusive art by Axel Rangel


key takeaways

  • The accused, along with two others, allegedly profited $1.1 million with inside knowledge of Coinbase token listings
  • His lawyer has reportedly argued the charges should be dropped, as insider trading cases only relate to securities or commodities

An insider trading case could confirm whether some cryptocurrencies listed by Coinbase are in fact securities.

Ishan Wahi, the former Coinbase product manager accused of insider trading, has pleaded not guilty to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) charges of wire fraud.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that both he and his brother, Nikhil Wahi, made their “not guilty” pleas at an arraignment in a Manhattan court before District Judge Loretta Preska. 

They were both arrested in Seattle last month after the SEC accused Ishan of trading cryptoassets based on confidential information between June 2021 and April 2022.

The regulator alleged he tipped his brother and friend Sameer Ramani about upcoming announcements of new Coinbase listings, which have been found to often coincide with big rallies.

All three have been charged with netting $1.1 million in profits from the sale of at least 25 tokens in an insider trading scheme. 

Ishan is said to have bought a one-way plane ticket to India after a Coinbase security director called him for a meeting at the crypto exchange’s Seattle office. Ramani reportedly remains at large.  

Ishan’s lawyer, David Miller, has disputed the wire fraud charges. He reportedly believes they should be dropped as insider trading cases relate to securities or commodities — saying those laws wouldn’t be relevant in this case. 

However the SEC, in its statement, labeled at least nine of the cryptoassets traded by the charged individuals as securities, which Coinbase has denied.

Miller also suggested that the information shared by his client wasn’t confidential, saying Coinbase tested new tokens before publicly listing them. 

Judge Preska has ordered both the brothers to be released on a $1 million personal recognizance bond, according to Law360.

Blockworks didn’t receive replies to requests for comment from Coinbase or lawyers for Ishan and Nikhil by press time. It’s unclear whether Ramani has an attorney.

Start your day with top crypto insights from David Canellis and Katherine Ross. Subscribe to the Empire newsletter.

Explore the growing intersection between crypto, macroeconomics, policy and finance with Ben Strack, Casey Wagner and Felix Jauvin. Subscribe to the On the Margin newsletter.

The Lightspeed newsletter is all things Solana, in your inbox, every day. Subscribe to daily Solana news from Jack Kubinec and Jeff Albus.


Upcoming Events

Salt Lake City, UT

MON - TUES, OCT. 7 - 8, 2024

Blockworks and Bankless in collaboration with buidlbox are excited to announce the second installment of the Permissionless Hackathon – taking place October 7-8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve partnered with buidlbox to bring together the brightest minds in crypto for […]

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research



Aerodrome is a "MetaDEX" that combines elements of various DEX primitives such as Uniswap V2 and V3, Curve, Convex, and Votium. Since its launch on Base, it has become the largest protocol by TVL with more than $495M in value locked, doubling Uniswap's Base deployment.


Plus, a look into US spot BTC funds six months into trading


A Swedish energy-focused project named Srcful proposed to become a Helium subnetwork with its own ENERGY token


Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo thinks BUIDL will potentially hit its next $500 million milestone in just a few months


Representatives on Thursday opted to back President Biden and uphold his veto of the legislation that sought to invalidate SAB 121


The former Valkyrie CEO chats with Blockworks about what she has her eye on as Cypherpunk Holdings’ new leader


Thursday’s CPI report shows prices are coming down more quickly than analysts had anticipated, renewing hope that central bankers will cut rates in the fall