Cryptocurrency’s first insider trading scheme leads to 3 being charged

A former employee of the cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase and two others were charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for alleged insider trading valued at more than $1.1 million, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Prosecutors said this is the first insider-trading case involving cryptocurrency markets, the Seattle Times reported. “Fraud is fraud is fraud, whether it occurs on the blockchain or on Wall Street,” U.S. attorney Damian Williams said in a news release. Between June 2021 and April 2022, former product manager Ishan Wahi, his brother Nikhil Wahi and close friend Sameer Ramani traded crypto assets listed on Coinbase before at least 10 announcements and sold them for a profit, the lawsuit said. Ishan Wahi would tell the two men about the confidential announcements using a foreign phone, prosecutors said. “The prices of crypto assets identified in these listing announcements, including crypto asset securities, typically appreciate quickly and significantly,” the lawsuit said. In some cases, a token’s value can increase 1,200% in a few months.

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