On March 22, 2023, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced that Amit Bhardwaj, the former Chief Information Security Officer (“CISO”) of Lumentum Holding Inc., a California-based telecommunications equipment company, had pleaded guilty to 13 counts of a 14-count indictment based on his participation in an insider trading. Bhardwaj pleaded guilty to 7 counts of securities fraud, 2 counts of wire fraud, and 4 counts of securities and wire fraud conspiracy. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, 2023. As part of his sentence, Bhardwaj agreed to pay or forfeit $547,286, the amount of proceeds that can be traced to the wrongdoing.
On July 25, 2022, the SEC charged Bhardwaj with insider trading in the securities of Coherent, Inc. and NeoPhotonic Corporation while in possession of material nonpublic information (“MPNI”) obtained as Lumentum’s CISO. The SEC also accused Bhardwaj of sharing the MNPI concerning Lumentum’s planned acquisition of Coherent and NeoPhotonic with close friends and relatives who also engaged in unlawful securities trades, which are alleged to have generated a combined total of more than $5.2 million in illegal profits. On the same day, the USAO filed parallel criminal charges against Bhardwaj and his friends and relatives – Dhirenkumar Patel, Srinivasa Kakkera, Abbas Saeedi, and Ramesh Chitor – for their roles in the trading scheme. Bhardwaj, Kakkera, and Saeedi were also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice based on allegations by the FBI that the three met in an effort to develop false stories to conceal the scheme.
In 2022, Patel and Chitor separately pled guilty to certain charges against them and began cooperating with the government in this case. The cases against Kakkera and Saeedi are ongoing.