Indian Americans on financial crime rogue’s gallery

Indian Americans on financial crime rogue’s gallery

The recent allegations by investor research firm Hindenburg against Twitter founder Jack Dorsey also extend to other employees of his company Block including Indian-origin chief financial officer Amrita Ahuja. And Ahuja is not the only Indian American who has been in the news lately for serious financial white collar crime. Here are some of the people of Indian origin who have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Amrita Ahuja
According to the report by Hindenburg against Jack Dorsey and other senior executives at Block, criminals were allowed to operate hundreds of accounts, in the name of easy onboarding and seamless user experience by Ahuja, who was chief financial officer. She is said to have justified the failure to verify users for frictionless services. She is now accused of dumping her stake in Block worth millions when co-founders sold shares worth $1 billion as the stocks surged due to alleged facilitation of fraud. Ahuja is a second generation Indian immigrant whose parents migrated to the US from India. She studied at top institutions including London School of Economics, Duke University and Harvard and has worked at Morgan Stanley, Airbnb, McKinsey and Disney, before joining Block Inc. Last year, she was among Fortune magazine’s most powerful women.
Nishad Singh
Singh, a US citizen who reportedly grew up in California, was the engineering director of the cryptocurrency firm FTX which collapsed last year. He pleaded guilty to six criminal charges, included three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, in the US earlier this month. The plea comes after FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was accused of 12 criminal charges. FTX filed for bankruptcy last year, leaving many users unable to withdraw their funds. Prosecutors accuse Bankman-Fried of running a scheme through which customer deposits at FTX were funnelled to his hedge fund Alameda Research and used for political donations, property purchases and other investments. Singh, 27, a childhood friend of Bankman-Fried’s brother, worked at Alameda Research and was later part of the team that established FTX. Like Bankman-Fried, he had also become a big donor to political campaigns.
Sunny Balwani
Sindhi-origin Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani, the business partner and second in command of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, has been sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison last year and earlier this month his appeal to remain free while he appeals against his conviction has been rejected by a US federal judge.
Balwani was convicted in July last year on 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in the failed blood-testing start-up. Theranos executives falsely claimed the product could diagnose illnesses with a few drops of blood from a finger prick. Balwani, the company’s former chief operating officer and president, was found guilty of defrauding patients who used the blood tests. He had direct oversight over the company’s labs.
Ishan Wahi
Ishan Wahi, a former product manager at cryptocurrency company Coinbase, has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a scheme to commit insider trading in cryptocurrency assets by using confidential business information. Wahi, who is reportedly an Indian citizen, was arrested and charged in July 2022 and pled guilty in February this year before a US district judge in what is seen as the first-ever cryptocurrency insider trading case. On multiple occasions between June 2021 and April 2022, Wahi violated his duties of trust and confidence to Coinbase by providing confidential business information that he learned in connection with his employment to his brother Nikhil Wahi and friend Sameer Ramani so that they could secretly engage in profitable trades around public announcements by the company that it would be listing certain crypto assets on its exchanges. Wahi is scheduled to be sentenced in May this year.
Rathanakishore Giri
Last November, Indian American Rathanakishore Giri, faced criminal charges by the US federal law enforcement authorities in Ohio related to his alleged involvement in a cryptocurrency investment fraud scheme that raised at least $10 million from investors. According to court documents, Giri, 27, from New Albany allegedly misled the investors by fraudulently promoting himself as an expert cryptocurrency trader, with a specialty in trading Bitcoin derivatives. As alleged in the indictment, the accused falsely promised the investors that he would generate lucrative returns with no risk to their principal investment amount, which he guaranteed to return, federal prosecutors alleged. Giri often allegedly used money provided by new investors to repay old ones – a hallmark of a Ponzi scheme, the prosecutors said.
Giri allegedly had a record of investment failures, including a long history of losing investors’ principal investments, and misled the investors about the reasons for delays when they sought to cash out their investments or otherwise obtain the return of their ‘guaranteed’ principal, according to court papers. He is charged by indictment with five counts of wire fraud. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count.

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