The Indian-origin husband of a former Amazon employee has been sentenced to 26 months in prison by a US court for securities fraud and illegally making a profit of USD 1.4 million by using inside trading information from his wife.
Viky Bohra, 37, from Bothell, Washington state, pleaded guilty in November 2020, admitting that between 2016 and 2018, he used Amazon inside information he obtained from his wife, an Amazon finance employee, to place trades in Amazon stock-making a profit of $1.4 million, acting US Attorney Tessa M Gorman said.
Mr Bohra was sentenced on June 10 in US District Court in Seattle to 26 months in prison for securities fraud due to his insider trading activity, the US Department of Justice said in a press release.
At the sentencing hearing, US District Judge James L Robart noted that Bohra had turned his wife and father into criminals and added "I firmly believe white collar crime deserves equal treatment to what we call street crime."
"This defendant and his wife were earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and bonuses from their jobs in tech -- but he was not content with that -- greedily scheming to illegally profit by trading Amazon stock," said US Attorney Tessa M Gorman.
"This case should stand as a warning to those who try to game the markets with insider trading: there is a heavy price to pay with a felony conviction and prison sentence."
According to records filed in the case, Mr Bohra's wife had access to confidential information regarding Amazon revenue and expenses. Because of that work, Mr Bohra and his wife were subject to blackout periods during which no Amazon stock could be traded.
Mr Bohra's wife was advised of insider trading policies making it clear the responsibility to safeguard confidential financial information. Despite those warnings, Mr Bohra obtained his wife's confidential information and traded in Amazon stock and options in accounts tied to him and his father.
Trades occurred during blackout periods and, from 2016 to 2018, relied in part on information from his wife to make successful trades in advance of Amazon earnings announcements.
"(Mr) Bohra knew exactly what he was doing and was driven solely by greed," said Donald M Voiret, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Seattle Field Office. "With his nearly unlimited access and knowledge of securities trading, he undermined public trust in our financial markets."
In asking for a 33-month sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court, "over two and a half years, (Mr) Bohra, using information provided by his wife, made over USD 1.4 million by making illegal stock and options trades. (Mr) Bohra's conduct was not an isolated incident, limited to trading before one Amazon earning's statement. Rather, (Mr) Bohra engaged in illegal insider trading in advance of 11 straight earnings announcements."
On September 28, 2020, Mr Bohra was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a civil insider trading case.
He and his family members have paid USD 2,652,899 in disgorgement, interest and penalties. Based upon these payments, the United States is not seeking forfeiture in this case, the press release said.
As part of the plea agreement, Mr Bohra's wife will not face criminal charges. Mr Bohra's wife is no longer employed at Amazon, it said.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), it added.