Salil Parulekar, a former Tesla employee has been charged with engaging in an embezzlement scheme involving his former employer. The United States Attorney Alex G. Tse and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett announced the indictment today.
According to the charges, Parulekar managed an embezzlement scheme at Tesla via the Global Supply Management. Parulekar job required him to manage the relationships with various Tesla suppliers, he is suspected of using this position to start a strategy that where he could divert money owed to one Tesla supplier and have it paid by another.
More than 9 million embezzled via supply management
In total Parulekar allegedly embezzled approximately $9.3 million. The indictment outlined how Parulekar managed to continue to pay the supplier Schwabische Huttenwerke Automotive GmbH (“SHW”) despite them having their relationship with Tesla terminated. Parulekar redirected payments from another supplier Hota Industrial Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (“Hota”) by impersonating a HOTA employee and convincing Tesla payroll to switch the bank information for both Hota and SHW.
The complicated scheme required Parulekar to falsify a large number of documents including sales receipts, wire transfers, order forms and much more. Paruleka has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A.
Former Tesla employee faces over twenty years in prison
If found guilty the crimes carry a maximum penalty for each count of twenty years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The aggravated theft charge could see Paruleka face a two-year sentence and $250,000 fine.
Tesla is yet to make a comment on the charges. Elon Musk has a reputation as a devastatingly difficult boss.
The Tesla factories have been marred by accusations from workers who say Tesla and Musk have sought to quash unionizing efforts and have forced workers into overtime in unsafe conditions. In another instance, Tesla threatened to sue a former employee for theft and sabotage.
Musk's tough reputation causes tension
The electric car company filed a suit against process technician Martin Tripp, who they accused of hacking and sharing confidential data and misleading media. The $1 million lawsuit was obtained by CNBC, stated Tripp "unlawfully hacked the company’s confidential and trade secret information" and "transferred that information to third parties and also made false claims to the media about the information he stole."
The suit also indicated that Tesla had only begun to know the extent of Tripp's illegal activities leaving room to stipulate that more details would be revealed. Musk has often said that in order for Tesla to achieve their lofty ambitions he and all his employees must work harder than the average person in order to get there.