First crypto insider trading case ends in guilty plea

By James Langton | September 12, 2022 | Last updated on September 12, 2022
1 min read

The first-ever crypto insider trading case has resulted in a guilty plea, U.S. authorities reported.

A former product manager at Coinbase Global Inc., Nikhil Wahi, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a scheme to trade on information he received about the cryptoassets that were going to be listed on Coinbase’s exchanges before the information was made public.

Wahi was arrested in July and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 13.

According to court filings, on numerous occasions between July 2021 and May 2022, Wahi traded on tips about the cryptoassets to be listed on Coinbase, profiting when the value of those assets rose in response to being listed on the exchange.

The tips, which came from his brother who also worked at Coinbase at the time, generated over US$1.1 million in illicit profits, U.S. authorities alleged.

“Less than two months after he was charged, Nikhil Wahi admitted in court today that he traded in cryptoassets based on Coinbase’s confidential business information to which he was not entitled,” said Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, in a release.

“For the first time ever, a defendant has admitted his guilt in an insider trading case involving the cryptocurrency markets,” Williams added.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.