Stack of cryptocurrencies in a circle on the motherboard
© aleksey rezin / 123RF Stock Photo

The former Coinbase Global Inc. employee who passed along tips about cryptoassets that were going to be listed on the company’s exchanges has pleaded guilty in one of the first insider trading cases involving cryptoassets.

Ishan Wahi, a former product manager at Coinbase, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Wahi was accused of tipping his brother, Nikhil Wahi, and another man, Sameer Ramani, about the assets that were scheduled to be listed on the company’s exchanges before that information was made public — a development that routinely caused the trading price of those assets to rise.

Wahi and Ramani traded on those tips, generating illicit profits.

After being arrested and charged in July 2022, Wahi pleaded guilty in a New York court on Tuesday.

“Wahi is the first insider to admit guilt in an insider trading case involving the cryptocurrency markets,” said Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, in a release.

Previously, Nikhil Wahi also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the case.

In a parallel civil case, the trio was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with violating securities laws. Those allegations have not been proven.