Feds charge Amazon finance manager with insider trading

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The federal Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit Monday against an Amazon finance manager who allegedly leaked confidential company information to family members, allowing them to earn nearly $1.4 million by trading based on insider tips.

Bothell resident Laksha Bohra, a former manager in Amazon's Tax Division; her husband, Viky Bohra; and father-in-law Gotham Bohra, have agreed to pay back the stock gains, as well as another $1.2 million in penalties and interest.

The U.S. attorney simultaneously filed criminal charges against Viky Bohra. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on why no other were charged criminally.

"Vik Bohra deeply regrets this conduct, accepts full responsibility, and intends to promptly repay the funds," said attorney Peter Offenbecher in a statement on behalf of his client. An attorney for Laksha Bohra declined to comment on the charges. Gotham Bohra could not be reached.

Laksha Bohra, the SEC's civil complaint alleged, ignored numerous reminders from Amazon not to divulge confidential financial information or to illegally trade in the company's securities based on what she knew about the company's financial position—even after a former colleague pleaded guilty to in 2017, earning him six months in prison.

Between 2016 and 2018, Viky and Gotham Bohra "regularly" traded in Amazon securities across 11 separate brokerage accounts based on confidential insider information from Laksha Bohra, the complaint alleged.

While vacationing in Europe in April 2018, for instance, Laksha Bohra logged in remotely to Amazon's network to view the company's preliminary first-quarter earnings statements. The same day, betting Amazon shares would rise after the company announced its earnings, Viky and Gotham Bohra purchased options to buy Amazon shares at a specified price, the complaint alleged. The shares did rise after the earnings report—by 3.6% in one day, netting the Bohras nearly $600,000 in profit on the stock trades.

Amazon declined to respond to questions about how it prevents insider trading at the company, or whether it was aware that Laksha Bohra had allegedly passed inside information to family members when the company suspended her employment in October 2018.

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