updated The US Department of Justice has charged four people with selling a startup to a San Diego-based multinational tech company for $150 million the reg identified as Qualcomm.
The DoJ claims this happened despite the fledgling company’s allegedly proprietary technology being developed by Qualcomm employees and allegedly backed by insider access to Qualcomm.
The accusation Expectations that Karim Arabi, now ex-VP of R&D for Qualcomm, developed a new microchip technology in 2015 unbeknownst to his then-main employer and a resulting company, Abreezio LLC, through three different companies he controlled.
Under Arabi’s contract, the indictment states, “he was bound by covenants that generally provided that intellectual property he created during his tenure belonged to his employer, Qualcomm.”
The intellectual property that Abreezio is said to have developed includes “IP and EDA tools focused on PPA optimization in advanced technology nodes,” it said the linkedin bio a company manager
The indictment alleges that some Qualcomm vice presidents, along with Abreezio-appointed CEO Sanjiv Taneja, concealed Arabi’s role in developing the technology due to provisions in his contract that inventions made during employment belonged to Qualcomm.
Instead, the group markets the invention as the brainchild of a Canadian graduate student, Sheida Alan, and the company as an angel-funded Silicon Valley design IP startup.
The narrative of a Canadian graduate angel investor was marketed to Qualcomm to entice them to buy Abreezio, the DoJ claims.
But according to the indictment unsealed on August 9, Alan was Arabis’ “younger sister.”
Court documents allege that Arabi was the one who filed the provisional patents in Alan’s name and was secretly involved in most of Abreezio’s affairs, even the choice of the company’s name.
The crew tried to hide his involvement by using fake email accounts and even tricking Arabi into impersonating his sister, according to the indictment.
Meanwhile, the company relied on Arabi to provide information about Qualcomm, prosecutors claim. Court documents allege that Teneja asked Arabi for insight into similar technologies to better market Abreezio.
In October 2015, Abreezio was acquired by Qualcomm for $150 million, with Qualcomm believing all parties involved in the technology had been disclosed. The DoJ says Alan received nearly $92 million, Taneja took over $10 million, and two of Shokouhi’s companies received $24 million.
According to the indictment, the defendants laundered the money through foreign real estate and interest-free loans.
On Tuesday, August 9th, the charges against Alan, Arabi, Taneja and Shokouhi were unsealed. All but Alan were arrested. Alan is awaiting extradition proceedings from Canada. A replacement charge [PDF] accused the party of fraud and money laundering offences.
Shokouhi pleaded not guilty later that day. The defenses of the other defendants have not yet been registered.
The defendants face up to 20 years in prison and fines of $250,000 or double the monetary gain/loss for the fraud allegations or $500,000 for the money laundering allegations. You must also forfeit the property derived from the scam.
The registry has contacted Qualcomm for a response and will update accordingly. ®
Updated August 11 at 23:20 UTC Qualcomm sent the following statement.
https://www.theregister.com/2022/08/11/arabi_qualcomm_indictment/ 4 accused of tricking Qualcomm into buying $150 million worth of technology • The Register