Former Coinbase product manager behind insider trading case sentenced to 2 years in prison

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Ishan Wahi must surrender by June 21 to serve his sentence at the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution in New Jersey.

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A federal judge has sentenced Ishan Wahi, the former product manager at Coinbase Global accused of insider trading, to 24 months in prison.

In a May 9 hearing in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Loretta Preska sentenced Wahi to 2 years in prison for his role in using confidential information he obtained during his time working at Coinbase to profit off new listings of tokens, totaling up to $1.5 million. Preska ordered Wahi to surrender by June 21 at 2:00 PM ET to serve his sentence at the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution in New Jersey. Following his time in prison, he will be subject to two years of supervised release for each count, running concurrently.

“You spoke very nicely, you said all the right things,” said the judge in regard to Wahi. “I hope that you can make this up to your parents.”

The former Coinbase employee — along with his brother Nikhil Wahi and associate Sameer Ramani — allegedly used confidential information he obtained from Coinbase to profit off new listings of tokens, totaling more than $1 million. U.S. Authorities arrested Ishan and Nikhil in July 2022 as they were attempting to flee the country to travel to India.

Wahi’s counsel argued that in considering sentencing the judge should weigh Ishan’s immigration status in the United States, that this was a non-violent offense, and that he had “zero criminal history” prior to his arrest. Friends and family members including Wahi’s mother appeared in court in person for the sentencing.

“I submit that there’s no need for this court to impose additional punishment,” said counsel. “He has lost his job. He has lost his reputation. He has suffered an enormous amount of negative publicity both here in the United States and in India.”

The former Coinbase product manager also directly addressed the judge, saying he was “very sorry” for his actions and said he had “made a huge mistake”. Prosecutors argued that unlike his brother Nikhil and Ramani, Ishan was the most culpable by orchestrating the insider trading scheme:

“This was not a one-off mistake — this was over a ten-month period […] Having access to the kind of information that this defendant had access to was like being able to read the newspaper a day in advance.”

Related: Coinbase wins $470K restitution in insider trading case

The brothers pleaded guilty to criminal insider trading charges, with Ishan reportedly agreeing to a sentence of between 36 and 47 months in prison. Nikhil pled guilty to charges related to wire fraud conspiracy in September 2022 and was subsequently sentenced to 10 months in prison. At the time of publication, Ramani remained at large.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has also targeted Ishan in a parallel case involving potential violations of securities laws. As of April 3, the SEC said it had reached “an agreement in principle” with the former Coinbase product manager. 

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