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The 32-year old Indian allegedly diverted payments from one supplier to another during 2016 and 2017 when he was employed at Tesla.

Bengaluru: Salil Parulekar, a 32-year-old former Tesla employee has been charged for embezzling funds worth $9.3 million from the electric vehicles manufacturer by falsifying documents and diverting payments.

A federal grand jury in the United States issued an indictment against Parulekar last week, charging him with engaging in the embezzlement scheme.

Parulekar has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. If convicted, the maximum sentence for each count of wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum sentence for aggravated identity theft is a further two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


Also read: Indian ex-employee of Tesla charged for stealing Rs 67 crore from company


The Case

According to the indictment, Parulekar orchestrated the scheme during 2016 and 2017 when he was employed at Tesla’s Global Supply Management group and lived in San Jose.

As a manager, Parulekar was responsible for overseeing payments to suppliers. He used his position to divert funds meant for one supplier, the Taiwan-based auto parts supplier Hota Industrial Manufacturing, to a different supplier, the German Schwäbische Hüttenwerke Automotive GmbH (SHW), the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

Shortly after Tesla terminated its relationship with its supplier SHW, Parulekar allegedly diverted payments meant for Hota to SHW despite knowing it was no longer a supplier. He allegedly did this by falsifying invoices, creating fraudulent accounts payable documents like bank account information and wire instructions, and impersonating Hota employees.

The indictment states that Parulekar stole the identity of a Hota employee and impersonated him, tricking Tesla’s Accounts Payable division into swapping the bank account details for Hota and SHW.

The statement, however, didn’t clarify whether employees at SHW had colluded with Parulekar or were even aware of the embezzlement.


Also read: Is India’s regulation pushing Tesla towards China?


Background

Parulekar is an alumnus of Mumbai’s KJ Somaiyya College of Engineering and North Carolina State University.

He worked for Tesla from 2013 to 2017, during which he also worked in purchasing for Powertrain sub-systems & components, Propulsion Systems & Drive Units.

Previously, he was at the Michigan-based BorgWarner Inc, a propulsion parts supplier. He has also worked at Tata Consultancy Services and interned with Mahindra Navistar Automotives, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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