A former Tesla supplier relationship manager faces a 180-year prison sentence if found guilty of stealing $9.3m of supplier payments from the company and committing identity theft in a two-year scam.
A California federal grand jury last week charged Salil Parulekar, 32, with diverting money meant for one supplier, Hota Industrial Manufacturing, to another, Schwabische Automotive GmbH (SHW) in 2016 and 2017, according to the Department of Justice.
An indictment claims he used his role in Tesla’s global supply management operation to steal the money after learning the company had cancelled its relationship with SHW in January 2017. At the time of the termination, SHW had only provided a limited number of sample products such as motor pumps to Tesla.
Parulekar allegedly created fake invoices and accounts payable documents, such as bank account information, and stole the identity of a Hota employee to trick Tesla’s accounts department into switching Hota’s and SHW’s bank details. This allowed him to embezzle the money, the court documents said.
German company SHW produces fuel and motor pumps and engine components, while Taiwanese Hota makes gears and axles.
Parulekar has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft, which could potentially earn him 182 years in prison and a $2.5m fine. According to a LinkedIn page sharing his name, he began working at the company in 2013 and stopped in December 2017.
Last month, the California-based electric car manufacturer signed a land transfer agreement for an 860 sq km site near Shanghai to build a gigafactory. Meanwhile, UK based future-rival Dyson is to build its first electric cars in a new manufacturing plant in Singapore.
Parulekar’s alleged crimes emerged after an FBI investigation. Tesla declined to comment.