Crypto insider trading: Arrested Indian brothers pleads innocent to allegations

Two Indian brothers have pleaded innocent to the insider trading charges leveled against them by U.S prosecutors. The brothers, Ishan Wahi, a former Coinbase Global Inc product manager, and Nikhil, were in July arrested in the U.S for alleged involvement in a crypto insider trading scam. Reportedly,  Ishan shared private information as regards the upcoming launch of the new digital assets on Coinbase with his brother, Nikhil, and their friend Sameer Ramani.

According to reports, the former Coinbase employee allegedly told his brother and Ramani that the forthcoming digital assets by Coinbase would allow users to trade. The brother, Nikhil Wahi, was also arraigned before U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska of Manhattan Federal Court, where he pleaded not guilty to the charge. However, the third person, Ramani, charged alongside the brothers, is still at large.

The prosecutors alleged that Nikhil and Ramani employed Ethereum wallets to obtain and trade the assets. As revealed, they traded the assets about 14 times before Coinbase’s initial announcement in June 2021 and April 2022. Additionally, the prosecutors noted that the announcement by the exchange inflated the value of the assets, which led to over $1.5 million in unlawful profits.

The prosecutors charged Ishan with two counts of wire scam conspiracy and two counts of wire scam. Reportedly, both charges attract 20 years of sentencing each. His brother, Nikhil, and Ramani were also charged with one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of wire fraud. Both charges carry 20 years sentences too.

However, the legal counsel to Ishan,  David Miller, urged the court to dismiss the charges against his client. According to David, such insider trading requires securities or commodities, which is absent in this case. He further noted that the exchange had earlier sampled the new tokens before listing them to the public. As such, Miller insisted that the information shared by his client was not in any way confidential.

One of the prosecutors, Noah Solowiejczyk, countered the claim that the “confidential information” was already public. He noted that the case is similar to previous wire scam cases. The court has fixed the bail for the two brothers at $1 million each. They are expected to reappear in Court by March 22, 2023, to continue the case.

According to the U.S attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, the charges against the two Indian brothers and their friend confirms web3 as a legislated sphere.


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