Ex-Tesla worker faces fraud charges

Prose­cu­tors say for­mer man­ager tricked au­tomaker into mis­di­rect­ing mil­lions

The Mercury News - - Business + Technology - By Ethan Baron ebaron@ ba­yare­anews­group.com Con­tact Ethan Baron at 408-920-5011.

A for­mer Tesla global sup­ply man­ager was in­dicted Thurs­day by fed­eral prose­cu­tors al­leg­ing he em­bez­zled more than $9 mil­lion from the Palo Alto elec­tric car maker.

Salil Parulekar, 32, is charged with felony wire fraud and ag­gra­vated iden­tity theft.

Parulekar over­saw Tesla’s deal­ings with cer­tain auto parts and ser­vices ven­dors, and used that po­si­tion to di­vert to a Ger­man auto parts com­pany $9.3 mil­lion in pay­ments in­tended for a Tai­wanese sup­plier, ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ment. The in­dict­ment does not make clear whether fed­eral au­thor­i­ties be­lieve the Ger­man firm had knowl­edge of the al­leged scheme. The U.S. At­tor­ney’s of­fice for North­ern Cal­i­for­nia said it could not pro­vide in­for­ma­tion be­yond what is in the in­dict­ment.

Parulekar, who was liv­ing in San Jose and work­ing for Tesla in 2016 and 2017, fal­si­fied in­voices, cre­ated fake ac­counts-payable doc­u­ments, and im­per­son­ated an em­ployee of the Tai­wanese sup­plier to trick Tesla’s ac­counts-payable de­part­ment into switch­ing the bank ac­count in­for­ma­tion of the Tai­wanese and Ger­man com­pa­nies, the in­dict­ment al­leged.

That Tai­wanese firm’s com­plaints to Tesla about miss­ing money went to Parulekar, who re­sponded by send­ing fake doc­u­ments pur­port­ing to show the pay­ments were made, the in­dict­ment claimed.

The Ger­man com­pany ac­knowl­edged in March that it had re­ceived the $9.3 mil­lion in pay­ments, the in­dict­ment said. That com­pany did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Parulekar had worked for Tesla since 2013, ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ment. Tesla de­clined to com­ment on the in­dict­ment.

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