This week, the U.S. Department of Justice has officially charged a former Tesla employee that seems to have embezzled some $10 million.
Apparently, Salil Parulekar used wire fraud to steal money from Tesla. He was previously the automaker's Global Supply Management chair. According to the report by Electrek, Salil was charged with nine counts of wire fraud, as well as identity theft.
The indictment indicates that Salil worked closely with suppliers for Tesla and took advantage of his executive position to redirect supply payments in a plan that could only cost the automaker money and help him in the interim (however, it's not clear how Salil may have benefited in the situation). According to the DoJ via Electrek:
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.
Salil went so far as to falsify his identity to work payments in his favor to a company that no longer serviced Tesla, instead of another supplier that was expecting payment for services/goods provided. We don't know exactly how that impacted supply or production or how it benefited Salil, but what we do know is that it may have cost Tesla some $9.3 million. Thankfully, Salil was no longer employed by the Silicon Valley electric automaker as of last December.
According to the publication, if Salil is proven guilty, he could face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 for each wire fraud violation. Still, we don't know if there's a way for Tesla to ever receive its misdirected monies. We also have no indication whether or not Salil benefited financially from the fraud and/or if he'll also be responsible for helping to reclaim the lost revenue or its impact to productivity.