Seattle – A Mercer Island, Washington resident who previously served as a start-up company Chief Financial Officer (CFO) was indicted today in U.S. District Court in Seattle for wire fraud for taking and misusing some $35 million from his employer, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Nevin Shetty, 39, is scheduled for arraignment on the indictment on May 25, 2023.
According to the indictment, Shetty was hired as the CFO of a private company in March 2021. The company was raising capital for its work in multiple rounds of funding. The company, with Shetty, was working on policies as to how the money raised should be conservatively invested while the company worked to grow its business. The company adopted an investment policy statement that called for company cash to be invested only in fixed income instruments payable in U.S. dollars. Only certain types of conservative investments were approved.
Despite the fact that Shetty helped draft the policy and disseminate it, he moved $35 million in company funds to a cryptocurrency platform he controlled as a side business. Shetty created that side business, called HighTower Treasury, in or around February 2022. In March 2022, he was told he could not continue as CFO at his employer due to concerns about his performance. Shortly after he got this news, Shetty secretly transferred the funds out of the company’s account.
Between April 1 and 12, 2022, Shetty transferred $35,000,100 of his employer’s money to an account for HighTower. No one else at the company knew of these transfers. The money was supposed to be invested by HighTower in a realm of cryptocurrency sometimes referred to as decentralized finance or “DeFi.” HighTower would pay Shetty’s company 6% interest and keep the remainder of any interest earned, which could have been substantial. As an owner of HighTower, Shetty stood to keep those profits. Shetty kept this investment in cryptocurrency secret from the board and other employees at the company where he worked.
However, the cryptocurrency investments soon began declining and by May 13, 2022, the value of the $35 million investment was nearly zero.
The company reported the embezzlement to the FBI who launched an investigation.
Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Philip Kopczynski.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.