Mercer Islander indicted for embezzling $35 million from former company

Following an investment, man lost nearly all the value in crypto crash.

A Mercer Island resident was indicted in U.S. District Court in Seattle on May 17 for secretly transferring $35 million from his company’s account to invest in his own cryptocurrency operation.

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown announced that Nevin Shetty, 39, was indicted for wire fraud and taking and misusing the funds while serving as chief financial officer (CFO) for a private start-up company in 2021 and 2022, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release. Shetty’s arraignment on the indictment is slated for May 25.

About a month after Shetty transferred the funds into his HighTower Treasury account between April 1-12 of last year, the cryptocurrency market began deteriorating and left the value of his robust investment standing at nearly zero, the release noted.

The FBI launched an investigation into the matter after the company apprised the bureau of the embezzlement, the release says, adding that the indictment charges are only allegations and that wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The company is headquartered in the Western District of Washington and incorporated in Delaware, according to the indictment.

Shetty’s attorney Cooper Offenbecher issued the following statement on behalf of his client to the Reporter:

“We have been in regular communication with the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding the merit of any criminal prosecution stemming from this investigation and we disagree with the government’s decision to indict Mr. Shetty. As the CFO of his former employer, tasked with making investment decisions for its benefit, Mr. Shetty was personally devastated by these losses, which occurred as a result of a catastrophic crash in the cryptocurrency market in May 2022. We look forward to responding to these allegations in Court.”

During Shetty’s employment with the company, which started in March of 2021, he helped the firm begin its path to conservatively invest the capital it raised to grow the business only in fixed income instruments payable in U.S. dollars, according to the indictment.

About a month after Shetty created HighTower Treasury, he was told to step down as CFO of the start-up due to concerns about his performance. Shetty transferred the company’s funds soon after, the release noted, adding that HighTower invested the money in crypto decentralized finance, and “HighTower would pay Shetty’s company 6% interest and keep the remainder of any interest earned, which could have been substantial.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Philip Kopczynski.