A senior manager in Amazon’s tax department ran an insider trading scheme in which she, along with her husband and father-in-law, made $1.4 million buying and selling stocks and options ahead of the company’s earnings announcements.
The Securities and Exchange Commission shared details of the scheme on Monday in a press release describing the misconduct of 36-year-old Laksha Bohra and her family. The Bohras do not dispute the accusations, and are also facing criminal charges from the U.S. Justice Department.
The SEC’s legal complaint describes how the family used 11 separate stock-trading accounts in what Bohra’s father-in-law described as a “family thing” to buy and sell stock on behalf of different relatives.
Bohra gained access to Amazon’s confidential information in her role overseeing financial data related to the company’s “transfer pricing” operations across different countries. Despite repeated reminders from Amazon that it was illegal for someone in her position to buy and sell company stock, Bohra engaged in a flurry of phone calls and text messages to tip her family off about upcoming earnings announcements.
The family used the insider information to buy Amazon shares at favorable times, but also to sell put and call options.
The reminders about insider trading issued by Amazon included a video sent to the company’s entire finance division. The video went out after the SEC charged another Amazon employee in 2017 with leaking sensitive information a fraternity brother so the pair could make an illegal profit.
Under the terms of the SEC settlement, the Bohra family will pay back approximately $1.5 million in illegal profit, and pay additional penalties of $1,106,399.
Amazon terminated Bohra in 2018 for reasons unspecified in the complaint. The company declined to comment on the SEC announcement.
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