Amazon bean-counter, her husband, father-in-law cough up $2.6m after SEC collars them on insider-trading rap

Criminal charges to follow


An Amazon finance manager has been accused of insider trading, along with her husband and father-in-law who collectively bought and sold Amazon shares based on non-public financial details it is said she leaked to her spouse.

Collectively, the trio made $1.4m in profit from their little scam, America's financial watchdog the SEC claimed on Monday. In a settlement with the SEC, all three of the accused agreed to pay back the dosh as a disgorgement to the government, and cough up $1.1m in penalties and $118,406 in interest – about $2.6m total – after the regulator sued [PDF] them in a federal district court in Washington state.

Laksha Bohra, 36, worked for Amazon in Seattle, starting in 2012 as a transfer pricing manager in its tax department. Between January 2016 and July 2018 she helped prepare and review the web giant’s quarterly earnings figures.

During that time she repeatedly ignored internal warnings to not get involved in any insider trading, and according to the SEC, gave her husband, Viky Bohra, also 36, and father-in-law Gotham Bohra, 63, details of confidential financial information that she had access to through her work computer: details they then used to play the stock market. The trades were persistent and large transfers happened ahead of every single earnings announcement through accounts controlled by the three of them, the regulator noted. They repeatedly capitalized on stock jumps of two to four per cent, plugging the money back into their next stock buy, we're told.

Amazon has a “zero tolerance” insider-trading policy, something all finance department employees were reminded of by Amazon’s CFO personally in September 2017 after another employee was collared for insider trading. All staff who saw the highly confidential information before it became public were also reminded repeatedly in the lead up to the earnings reports that they were not to trade any Amazon securities except with the explicit approval of its legal department, nor tell anyone, including family, any details about the figures. Amazon also imposed blackout trading periods around earnings time.

Not exactly Ocean's Eleven

Considering all that, their alleged insider trading efforts were pretty amateurish. They opened no fewer than 11 accounts – all with the same trading platform – and under different family names. They then grew tired of operating each account independently and so, in records clearly provided under subpoena, they asked the trading company to treat them the same and allow all three of them access to the funds.

Combined with Amazon’s logs of Laksha Bohra’s work computer, which included repeat checks of Amazon’s share price and the company’s confidential financial dashboards, it wasn’t hard to connect the dots. Amazon suspended Bohra in October 2018, and she resigned shortly after.

Although the SEC legal action will see them all pay a hefty financial price, it’s just the start of their problems: the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington has already filed criminal charges against Viky. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Amazon not happy with antitrust law targeting Amazon
    We assume the world's smallest violin is available right now on Prime

    Updated Amazon has blasted a proposed antitrust law that aims to clamp down on anti-competitive practices by Big Tech.

    The American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and House Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) is a bipartisan bill, with Democrat and Republican support in the Senate and House. It is still making its way through Congress.

    The bill [PDF] prohibits certain "online platforms" from unfairly promoting their own products and services in a way that prevents or hampers third-party businesses in competing. Said platforms with 50 million-plus active monthly users in the US or 100,000-plus US business users, and either $550 billion-plus in annual sales or market cap or a billion-plus worldwide users, that act as a "critical trading partner" for suppliers would be affected. 

    Continue reading
  • Amazon accused of obstructing probe into deadly warehouse collapse
    House Dems demand documents from CEO on facility hit by tornado – or else

    Updated The US House Oversight Committee has told Amazon CEO Andy Jassy to turn over documents pertaining to the collapse of an Amazon warehouse – and if he doesn't, the lawmakers say they will be forced to "consider alternative measures."

    Penned by Oversight Committee members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO) and committee chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), the letter refers to the destruction of an Edwardsville, Illinois, Amazon fulfillment center in which six people were killed when a tornado hit. It was reported that the facility received two weather warnings about 20 minutes before the tornado struck at 8.27pm on December 10; most staff had headed to a shelter, some to an area where there were no windows but was hard hit by the storm.

    In late March, the Oversight Committee sent a letter to Jassy with a mid-April deadline to hand over a variety of documents, including disaster policies and procedures, communication between managers, employees and contractors, and internal discussion of the tornado and its aftermath.

    Continue reading
  • Alibaba Cloud challenges AWS with its own custom smartNIC
    Who'll board the custom silicon bandwagon next?

    Alibaba Cloud offered a peek at its latest homegrown silicon at its annual summit this week, which it calls Cloud Infrastructure Processing Units (CIPU).

    The data processing units (DPUs), which we're told have already been deployed in a “handful” of the Chinese giant’s datacenters, offload virtualization functions associated with storage, networking, and security from the host CPU cores onto dedicated hardware.

    “The rapid increase in data volume and scale, together with higher demand for lower latency, call for the creation of new tech infrastructure,” Alibaba Cloud Intelligence President Jeff Zhang said in a release.

    Continue reading
  • Threat of cross-border data tariffs looms over WTO
    Some countries call for moratorium to be lifted, tech industry not keen on potential costs

    Concern is growing that a World Trade Organization (WTO) moratorium on cross-border tariffs covering data may not be extended, which would hit e-commerce if countries decide to introduce such tariffs.

    Representatives of the WTO's 164 members are meeting in Geneva as part of a multi-day ministerial conference. June 15 was to be the final day but the trade organization today confirmed it is being extended until June 16, to facilitate outcomes on the main issues under discussion.

    The current moratorium covering e-commerce tariffs was introduced in 1998, and so far the WTO has extended it at such meetings, which typically take place every two years.

    Continue reading
  • AWS says it will cloudify your mainframe workloads
    Buyer beware, say analysts, technical debt will catch up with you eventually

    AWS is trying to help organizations migrate their mainframe-based workloads to the cloud and potentially transform them into modern cloud-native services.

    The Mainframe Modernization initiative was unveiled at the cloud giant's Re:Invent conference at the end of last year, where CEO Adam Selipsky claimed that "customers are trying to get off their mainframes as fast as they can."

    Whether this is based in reality or not, AWS concedes that such a migration will inevitably involve the customer going through a lengthy and complex process that requires multiple steps to discover, assess, test, and operate the new workload environments.

    Continue reading
  • Engineer sues Amazon for not covering work-from-home internet, electricity bills
    And no, I'm not throwing out this lawsuit, says judge

    Amazon's attempt to dismiss a lawsuit, brought by one of its senior software engineers, asking it to reimburse workers for internet and electricity costs racked up while working from home in the pandemic, has been rejected by a California judge.

    David George Williams sued his employer for refusing to foot his monthly home office expenses, claiming Amazon is violating California's labor laws. The state's Labor Code section 2802 states: "An employer shall indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer."

    Williams reckons Amazon should not only be paying for its techies' home internet and electricity, but also for any other expenses related to their ad-hoc home office space during the pandemic. Williams sued the cloud giant on behalf of himself and over 4,000 workers employed in California across 12 locations, arguing these costs will range from $50 to $100 per month during the time they were told to stay away from corporate campuses as the coronavirus spread.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022