San Jose, California – Salil Parulekar, an Indian American was charged with nine counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft as a federal grand jury issued an indictment against him on Thursday (Nov. 8), charging him with engaging in an embezzlement scheme, according to the United States Attorney Alex G. Tse and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.
If convicted, the maximum penalty for each count of wire fraud is twenty years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The maximum sentence for aggravated identity theft, is two years in prison—to be served consecutively to the underlying felony—and a $250,000 fine.
According to the indictment, during 2016 and 2017, Parulekar, 32, formerly of San Jose, orchestrated an embezzlement scheme at Tesla Inc. (“Tesla”). At the time, 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. Parulekar 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 supplier. In sum, Parulekar allegedly embezzled approximately $9.3 million.
The indictment further disclosed that Parulekar learned in January 2017 that Tesla had terminated its supplier relationship with Schwabische Huttenwerke Automotive GmbH (“SHW”). At the time of the termination, SHW had only provided a limited number of sample products, specifically, motor pumps, to Tesla. Parulekar allegedly knew the termination meant that Tesla was withholding future payments to SHW and that Parulekar was not authorized to contravene this decision. Notwithstanding these facts, Parulekar redirected a series of payments intended for another supplier, Hota Industrial Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (“Hota”), and caused them to be paid to SHW.
The indictment alleged 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 employees. Specifically, 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 SHW. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.