Indian ex-Tesla employee charged for embezzling $9.3mn, identity theft
A 32-year-old Indian man, a former employee of American electric car manufacturer Tesla, has been charged for allegedly stealing $9.3mn from the company by falsifying financial documents. Salil Parulekar has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. If convicted, the maximum penalty for each count of wire fraud is twenty years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
Parulekar was indicted last week by California federal grand jury
A California federal grand jury issued an indictment against Parulekar last week. The indictment alleges Parulekar caused the diversion of payments by falsifying invoices, creating fraudulent accounts payable documents, such as bank account information and wire instructions, and impersonating Hota Industrial Manufacturing (a supplier) employees.
Crimes committed when Parulekar worked for Tesla Global Supply Management
The crimes were committed during 2016-17 when Parulekar was an employee in the Global Supply Management group at Tesla. He was responsible for overseeing Tesla's relationship with certain suppliers for various parts and services related to Tesla automobiles. He allegedly used his role to initiate a scheme wherein he diverted money owed to one Tesla supplier and caused it to be paid to another.
Last January, Tesla ended relationship with one supplier
According to the indictment, Parulekar learned in January 2017 that Tesla had terminated its supplier relationship with Schwabische Huttenwerke Automotive GmbH (SHW). During the termination, SHW had only provided a limited number of sample products to Tesla. Parulekar allegedly knew the termination meant that Tesla was withholding future payments to the SHW and that Parulekar wasn't authorized to contravene this decision.
Parulekar redirected series of payments intended for another supplier
Notwithstanding these facts, Parulekar redirected a series of payments intended for another supplier, Hota and caused them to be paid to the SHW. Specifically, Parulekar allegedly stole the identity of a Hota employee and deceived Tesla's Accounts Payable division into switching the bank account information for Hota and SHW. The maximum sentence for aggravated identity theft is two years in prison and $250,000 fine.
Parulekar joined Tesla as purchasing specialist in 2013
Parulekar joined Tesla in 2013 as a purchasing specialist and left in late 2017. He had studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Mumbai and earned his Masters in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University, according to his LinkedIn profile.