Risk & Compliance

Ex-Amazon Employee Accused of Insider Trading

The manager in Amazon's tax department allegedly made illegal trades with two family members ahead of the company's earnings announcements.
Matthew HellerSeptember 29, 2020

A former manager in Amazon’s tax department and two family members have been charged with making insider trades in advance of the company’s earnings announcements.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Laksha Bohra passed on highly confidential information she obtained through her work at Amazon to her husband, Viky Bohra, who, with his father, Gotham Bohra, traded on the information in 11 separate brokerage accounts.

The insider trading scheme spanned every Amazon earnings announcement between January 2016 and July 2018, generating about $1.4 million in illicit profits, the SEC alleged Monday in a civil complaint.

Viky Bohra was also charged in a parallel criminal case.

“We allege that the Bohras repeatedly and systematically used Amazon’s confidential information for their own gain,” Erin Schneider, director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office, said in a news release. “Employees with access to confidential, potentially market-moving corporate information may not use that information to enrich themselves, their friends, or their families.”

Laksha Bohra joined Amazon as a transfer pricing manager in its tax department in December 2012 and was promoted to senior manager in May 2018. According to the SEC, she had access to Amazon’s financial reporting databases and shared network files and assisted the accounting department in calculating and reviewing transfer pricing for intercompany transactions ahead of earnings announcements.

The complaint details trades the Bohras allegedly made in advance of the announcement of Amazon’s earnings for the fourth quarter of 2017. After the numbers were finalized on Jan. 16, 2018, the SEC said, Viky Bohra sold the Amazon put options he was holding and spent $850,000 on both common stock and call options, now betting that the stock price would increase.

After Amazon announced the earnings on Feb. 1, the price rose 2.9% and the Bohra family allegedly made a profit of about $664,000.

The SEC also said the defendants made a profit of about $591,000 after Laksha Bohra, who was on vacation in Greece at the time, logged in remotely to Amazon’s network to access preliminary numbers for its first-quarter 2018 earnings.