On February 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed a mid-trial grant of judgment as a matter of law against the Securities and Exchange Commission in a jury trial for insider trading. The decision in SEC v. Clark is a reminder that the SEC can meet its burden of proof by presenting merely circumstantial, rather than direct, evidence of insider trading and that a trial court must not weigh evidence, determine witnesses’ credibility, or substitute its judgment for the jury’s in deciding whether to grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law.
In the first insider trading case involving cryptocurrencies, a crypto trader was convicted of insider trading in federal district court and recently sentenced to 10 months in prison.
The defendant, Nikhil Wahi, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to illegally trading on information tipped by his brother, a former Coinbase product manager. According to his plea, Wahi used that information to trade on 40 different kinds of crypto assets were scheduled to be listed on the Coinbase platform between April 2021 and July 2022, when he was arrested. Prosecutors alleged that Wahi used those tips to sell crypto assets for a profit. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Wahi agreed to serve ten months in prison. Wahi’s brother, Ishan Wahi, has pleaded not guilty and is due to appear in court in March.
On December 14, 2022, the SEC adopted amendments to Rule 10b5-1 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and added related new disclosure requirements. Rule 10b5-1 provides an affirmative defense to insider trading liability for individuals and companies in circumstances where, subject to certain conditions, the trade was pursuant to…
The Second Circuit held yesterday that a government agency’s nonpublic, pre-decisional regulatory information does not constitute “property” for purposes of the federal insider-trading and wire-fraud statutes. The decision in United States v. Blaszczak (2d Cir. Dec. 27, 2022) (“Blaszczak II”) effectively vacated convictions under those statutes for defendants who had traded on nonpublic, market-moving information that had been obtained from a government agency.
In late October, a New York district court refused to dismiss the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) indictment against defendant Nathaniel Chastain, who was charged with wire fraud and money laundering relating to his using insider knowledge to purchase non-fungible tokens (NFTs) prior to them being featured on OpenSea, an online…
In late-July, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought insider trading charges against a former manager at Coinbase—the largest crypto asset trading platform in the United States. The charges are the latest move in the agency’s efforts to regulate cryptocurrency, and could spur an increase in cryptocurrency-related securities litigation.
The SEC prevailed on a motion to dismiss a closely watched lawsuit alleging that the defendant had engaged in insider trading based on news about a not-yet-public corporate acquisition when he purchased securities of a company not involved in that deal. The January 14, 2022 decision in SEC v. Panuwat (N.D. Cal.) marks the first time a court has considered the theory of “shadow trading,” which involves trading the securities of a public company that is not the direct subject of the material, nonpublic information (“MNPI”) at issue.
The Panuwat decision does not appear to break new ground under the misappropriation theory of insider trading in light of the particular facts alleged. But the “shadow trading” theory warrants attention because, on other sets of allegations, it can have wide-ranging ramifications for traders.