Qualcomm conned in $150M tech sale fraud

The former head of Abreezio, a tech firm which was fraudulently sold to Qualcomm for $150 million in cash, has pleaded guilty to his role in the scam.

Sanjiv Taneja, 60, of Cupertino, pleaded guilty at a federal court in California to laundering $1.5 million in funds that he and various accomplices obtained illicitly from the tech titan. Taneja used Karim Arabi as an insider or mole to cladestinely obtain internal Qualcomm data that allowed him to sharpen his sales pitch.

“Arabi was a Qualcomm employee throughout the entire marketing period, and hiding his involvement in the firm and the development of its patented technology allowed Abreezio’s principals to claim that the company was an ‘angel-funded’ outside firm while disguising its true connections to Qualcomm,” said the US Department of Justice.

That led Qualcomm to make a total offer of $180 million for Abreezio, of which $150 was paid in cash to Taneja and his accomplices in 2015.

Taneja further confessed to asking Arabi for performance numbers relating to Qualcomm’s existing technology to try to improve Abreezio’s marketing pitch, calling Arabi by a different name in text messages to obscure the latter’s involvement.

It transpired that Taneja never met the purported creator of Abreezio’s core technologies, a relative of Arabi who was never involved in the company’s technical or strategic decision-making to the best of Taneja’s knowledge.

Taneja was brought to justice by the FBI and IRS criminal investigations division.

“Taneja was part of an elaborate conspiracy to steal tens of millions of dollars from a major technology company and a complex scheme to launder the proceeds,” said an IRS spokesperson. “We are committed to continued collaboration with our law enforcement partners to identify and bring to justice those who attempt to defraud people, businesses or both.”

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