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US: Indian-origin man arrested on charges of defrauding Cisco System of more than USD 9.3 million

Criminal complaint against the man was unsealed Monday after he made his initial appearance in federal court before US Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Published on: March 06, 2019 12:49 IST
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Indian origin man arrested in US

An Indian-origin man, a former employee of Cisco System, was arrested and charged with a criminal complaint after he was accused of defrauding a technology major of more than USD 9.3 million, US Attorney David Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John Bennett have said. Prithviraj Bhikha, 50, was charged in a criminal complaint with wire fraud. 

Bhikha was arrested on March 1 from the San Francisco International Airport. The criminal complaint was unsealed Monday after he made his initial appearance in federal court before US Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero. Bhikha was later released on a USD three million bond. 

 
His next court appearance is scheduled for March 18 for arraignment. If convicted on the charge in the criminal complaint, he faces a maximum sentence of  20 years' imprisonment, and a fine of USD 250,000 along with restitution.

According to an affidavit filed by a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bhikha of San Francisco was employed until mid-2017 by Cisco as a  director in its global supply unit in San Jose. That unit was in charge of working with suppliers and vendors to obtain parts for Cisco products. 

In around 2013, Bhikha is alleged to have begun advocating within Cisco for the approval of a new project, of which he would be in charge, the goal of which  was for Cisco to retain third-party vendors to negotiate savings with manufacturers on small parts used in Cisco products. 

The complaint affidavit alleges that Bhikha devised, participated in, and executed a scheme to defraud Cisco by establishing overseas business entities, then  directing and approving Cisco contracts to these entities pursuant to the project, and failing to disclose his ownership interest in the overseas entities.

The affidavit alleges that Cisco wired approximately USD 6.5 million to one of these entities and approximately USD 2.8 million to another. 

More than USD 8.5 million was wired from bank accounts associated with these two overseas entities to US bank accounts either controlled jointly by Bhikha  and his wife or by his wife alone.

The complaint affidavit also alleges that, when Cisco employees became suspicious regarding one of Bhikha's overseas entities in 2016, Bhikha and another  Cisco employee worked together to create documentation to send to Cisco employees regarding that company.

The other Cisco employee is also alleged to have asked a third party to pose as the CEO of the overseas entity in a meeting with Cisco employees in July  2016. 

(With agency inputs)

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