For­mer Tesla em­ployee ac­cused of em­bez­zle­ment

Faces wire fraud charges in $9.3 mil­lion scheme

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - FRONT PAGE - Nathan Bomey

Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties ac­cused a for­mer Tesla em­ployee of us­ing his po­si­tion as a man­ager to em­bez­zle $9.3 mil­lion in 2016 and 2017.

Salil Parulekar, 32, was in­dicted Thurs­day in a Cal­i­for­nia fed­eral court on wire fraud charges for al­legedly or­ches­trat­ing a scheme in which he tricked his em­ployer into send­ing money to him­self in­stead of a sup­plier.

Pros­e­cu­tors said Parulekar posed as an em­ployee of a Tai­wanese sup­plier called Hota In­dus­trial Man­u­fac­tur­ing Co., fal­si­fied in­voices and forged bank doc­u­ments with in­struc­tions to wire money to ac­counts he con­trolled.

Hota was sup­posed to re­ceive cer­tain pay­ments from Tesla, but Parulekar redi­rected that money to him­self, ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ment.

“Parulekar al­legedly stole the iden­tity of a Hota em­ployee and, by im­per­son­at­ing the em­ployee, de­ceived Tesla’s Ac­counts Payable divi­sion into switch­ing the bank ac­count in­for­ma­tion for Hota” and a Ger­man sup­plier that Tesla had cut off from fu­ture pay­ments, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice for the North­ern Dis­trict of Cal­i­for­nia.

Reached by USA TO­DAY via Face­book chat on Fri­day morn­ing, Parulekar said, “I refuse to com­ment. I will di­rect you to my at­tor­ney.”

He did not im­me­di­ately pro­vide con­tact in­for­ma­tion for his lawyer upon re­quest.

The U.S. charged Parulekar with nine counts of wire fraud and one count of ag­gra­vated iden­tity theft. Wire fraud charges each carry a max­i­mum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Tesla de­clined to com­ment on the in­dict­ment.

Parulekar worked for Tesla from 2013 through De­cem­ber 2017, even­tu­ally be­com­ing group man­ager of global sup­ply man­age­ment, ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ment.

He was re­spon­si­ble for iden­ti­fy­ing cer­tain sup­pli­ers and man­ag­ing those deals.

TESLA INC.

Salil Parulekar worked for Tesla from 2013 to 2017.

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