Tech executive pleads guilty to $150 million fraud on Qualcomm

By SDCN Editor

San Diego, CA–The former CEO of a technology company sold to Qualcomm for over $150 million, pleaded guilty in federal court on August 10 for his role in a massive fraud. 

Sanjiv Taneja of Cupertino, California, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering related to a $1.5 million transaction involving proceeds of fraud on Qualcomm. In his plea agreement, Taneja admitted that he and co-defendants Karim Arabi, Ali Akbar Shokouhi, and others schemed to hide Arabi’s involvement in Abreezio—the tech firm that they marketed to Qualcomm. Arabi was a Qualcomm employee throughout the entire marketing period, and hiding his involvement in the firm and the development of its patented technology allowed Abreezio’s principals to claim that the company was an “angel-funded” outside firm while disguising its true connections to Qualcomm. In that regard, Taneja admitted that he asked Arabi for performance numbers for Qualcomm’s existing technology to try to improve Abreezio’s marketing pitch and that he even called Arabi by a different name in text messages to obscure Arabi’s involvement in Abreezio. According to court documents, Qualcomm agreed to pay roughly $180 million for Abreezio—$150 million of which was paid in cash in October 2015. 

Taneja acknowledged that he never actually met the purported creator of Abreezio’s core technologies, who is Arabi’s family member and was never involved in the company’s technical or strategic decision-making as far as Taneja knew. 

In his plea agreement, Taneja also admitted that Karim Arabi directed him to delete emails concerning the scheme once Qualcomm started investigating the Abreezio transaction, although Taneja was later able to recover the emails. 

“Fraud and deceit undermine legitimate businesses and the marketplace, whether they victimize small businesses or multinational corporations and their shareholders,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Haden.  “This office will seek justice against wrongdoers, big and small alike.”  

“Crimes like the one supported by Mr. Taneja and his co-conspirators threaten the economy at every level,” said FBI San Diego Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Jamie Arnold. “The FBI is committed to working with its law enforcement partners to ensure that every criminal taking part in corporate fraud is investigated and arrested.”

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