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United States of America v. Amit Bhardwaj
Case Number: 1:22-cr-00398
Judge: Gregory H. Woods
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in New York City
Description: New York City, New York criminal defense lawyer is represented Defendant charged with insider trading based on material non-public information misappropriately obtained from his employer.
AMIT BHARDWAJ, the former Chief Information Security Officer (“CISO”) at Lumentum Holdings Inc. (“Lumentum”), pled guilty to 13 counts arising from his participation in a scheme to commit insider trading based on material, non-public information (“MNPI”) that BHARDWAJ misappropriated from his employer, Lumentum. BHARDWAJ traded on the misappropriated MNPI himself and tipped his associates with this same information so that they could place profitable trades in Lumentum’s acquisition targets. BHARDWAJ was arrested and charged in July 2022 and pled guilty earlier today before U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Amit Bhardwaj, the former Chief Information Security Officer of Lumentum, ironically failed to keep the confidential information he was trusted with secure as he shared it with numerous friends and a family member in order to make a profit. Not only did Bhardwaj betray his company and cheat the securities markets, but when confronted by the FBI, he also schemed to conceal his illicit behavior and obstruct the investigation. Today’s guilty plea emphasizes this Office’s commitment to protecting the integrity of the financial markets.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment and statements made in public court proceedings:
In approximately December 2020, BHARDWAJ learned that Lumentum was considering acquiring Coherent, Inc (“Coherent”). Based on this information, BHARDWAJ himself purchased Coherent stock and call options, and BHARDWAJ tipped three associates –– his friend Dhirenkumar Patel, another friend, and one of BHARDWAJ’s close family relatives ––and these individuals all traded in Coherent securities as a result. BHARDWAJ and Patel agreed that Patel would pay BHARDWAJ 50% of the profits that Patel earned by trading in Coherent based on the MNPI provided by BHARDWAJ. When Coherent’s stock price increased substantially following the announcement of the Lumentum acquisition, BHARDWAJ, his close family member, his friend Patel, and another friend closed their positions in Coherent securities and collectively profited by nearly $900,000.
In or about October 2021, BHARDWAJ learned that Lumentum was engaged in confidential discussions with Neophotonics Corporation (“Neophotonics”) about a potential acquisition. BHARDWAJ provided this information to SRINIVASA KAKKERA, ABBAS SAEEDI, and Ramesh Chitor, and these individuals all traded in Neophotonics securities as a result. In connection with Chitor’s trading, BHARDWAJ and Chitor agreed that Chitor and BHARDWAJ would split the profits equally. When Neophotonics’ stock price increased substantially following the announcement of the Lumentum acquisition in November 2021, KAKKERA, SAEEDI, and Chitor closed their positions in Neophotonics securities and made collectively approximately $4.3 million in realized and unrealized profits.
After they were interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) voluntarily and served with federal grand jury subpoenas on approximately March 29, 2022, BHARDWAJ took steps to obstruct the federal investigation of their conduct. On the day of the March 29, 2022, FBI interviews, BHARDWAJ drove to the homes of certain of his co-conspirators to encourage them not to tell the federal authorities the truth about their insider trading scheme. BHARDWAJ and his associates subsequently met in person on multiple occasions and discussed, among other things, potential false stories that would conceal their insider trading scheme as well as creating false documents to buttress lies regarding payments that were, in reality, related to the insider trading scheme.
* * *
BHARDWAJ, 49, of San Ramon, California, pled guilty to seven counts of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison, and four counts of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum term of five years in prison.
The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge. BHARDWAJ is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Woods on July 11, 2023, at 10 a.m.
Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the FBI. He also acknowledged the assistance of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which separately initiated civil proceedings against BHARDWAJ.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Noah Solowiejczyk and Adam Hobson are in charge of the prosecution.
18:371.F Conspiracy to Commit Securities Fraud and Wire Fraud - Coherent - BHARDWAJ
15:78J.F Title 15 Securities Fraud - Coherent - BHARDWAJ
18:1343.F Wire Fraud - Coherent - BHARDWAJ
18:371.F Conspiracy to Commit Securities Fraud and Wire Fraud - Neophotonics - BHARDWAJ and KAKKERA
18:371.F Conspiracy to Commit Securities Fraud and Wire Fraud - Neophotonics - BHARDWAJ and SAEEDI
18:371.F Conspiracy to Commit Securities Fraud and Wire Fraud - Neophotonics - BHARDWAJ and Ramesh Chitor
15:78J.F Title 15 Securities Fraud - Neophotonics BHARDWAJ, KAKKERA, and SAEEDI
18:1343.F Wire Fraud Neophotonics - BHARDWAJ, KAKKERA, and SAEEDI
18:371.F Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice - BHARDWAJ, KAKKERA, and SAEEDI
Outcome: 03/16/2023 55 LETTER MOTION addressed to Judge Gregory H. Woods from Elisha Kobre dated March 16, 2023 re: Request for Bail Modification . Document filed by Srinivasa Kakkera as to Amit Bhardwaj, Srinivasa Kakkera, Abbas Saeedi. (Kobre, Elisha) (Entered: 03/16/2023)
03/20/2023 57 ORDER as to (22-Cr-398-1) Amit Bhardwaj. A conference with respect to defendant Amit Bhardwaj is scheduled for March 22, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. in Courtroom 12C, Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York 10007. SO ORDERED. ( Status Conference set for 3/22/2023 at 02:00 PM in Courtroom 12C, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007 before Judge Gregory H. Woods. )(Signed by Judge Gregory H. Woods on 3/20/2023)(bw) (Entered: 03/20/2023)
03/22/2023 Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Gregory H. Woods: Change of Plea Hearing as to Amit Bhardwaj (1) held on 3/22/2023. Defendant Amit Bhardwaj (1) (out on bail) present with attorneys Max C. Nicholas and Kiersten Meehan. AUSA Noah Solowiejczyk present. FBI Special Agent Jordan Avery present. Court Reporter Rebecca Forman present. Change of plea hearing held. Defendant sworn in. Defendant advised of rights. Defendant withdraws previously entered not guilty plea and enters a plea of GUILTY to Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 of the Indictment. Plea agreement entered as court exhibit #1. PSI ordered. The Government is to provide the factual statement of the offense to the Probation Department within the next 7 days. Defense counsel is to set up the interview with the Probation Department within the next 2 weeks. No interview to be conducted by the Probation Department without the participation of defense counsel. Sentencing is scheduled for July 11, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 12C, Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York 10007. The defendant's sentencing submissions are due two weeks prior to sentencing; the Government's sentencing submissions are due one week prior to sentencing. --Bail continued. -- See transcript. (bw) (Entered: 03/22/2023)
03/22/2023 58 CONSENT PRELIMINARY ORDER OF FORFEITURE/MONEY JUDGMENT as to (22-Cr-398-1) Amit Bhardwaj....[*** See this Consent Preliminary Order of Forfeiture/Money Judgment ***]... IT IS HEREBY STIPULATED AND AGREED, by and between the United States of America, by its attorney Damian Williams, United States Attorney, Assistant United States Attorneys Noah Solowiejczyk and Adam Hobson, of counsel, and the Defendant and his counsel, Max Nicholas, Esq., that: 1.As a result of the offenses charged in Counts One through Thirteen of the Indictment, to which the Defendant pled guilty, a money judgment in the amount of $547,286 in United States currency (the "Money Judgment"), representing the amount of proceeds traceable to the offenses charged in Counts One through Thirteen of the Indictment that the Defendant personally obtained, shall be entered against the Defendant. 2. Pursuant to Rule 32.2(6)(4) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, this Consent Preliminary Order of Forfeiture/Money Judgment is final as to the Defendant AMIT BHARDWAJ, and shall be deemed part of the sentence of the Defendant, and shall be included in the judgment of conviction therewith....[*** See this Consent Preliminary Order of Forfeiture/Money Judgment ***]... 7. The Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce this Consent Preliminary Order of Forfeiture/Money Judgment, and to amend it as necessary, pursuant to Rule 32.2 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. 8. The signature page of this Consent Preliminary Order of Forfeiture/Money Judgment may be executed in one or more counterparts, each of which will be deemed an original but all of which together will constitute one and the same instrument. SO ORDERED: (Signed by Judge Gregory H. Woods on 3/22/2023)(bw) (Entered: 03/22/2023)
03/22/2023 Change of Not Guilty Plea to Guilty Plea as to Amit Bhardwaj (1) Count 1,2-5,6,7,8,9,10-12,13. (bw) (Entered: 03/22/2023)
03/22/2023 Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Gregory H. Woods: Plea entered by Amit Bhardwaj (1) Guilty as to Count 1,2-5,6,7,8,9,10-12,13. (bw) (Entered: 03/22/2023)
03/22/2023 Order of Referral to Probation for Presentence Investigation and Report as to (22-Cr-398-1) Amit Bhardwaj. (By Judge Gregory H. Woods on 3/22/2023) (bw) (Entered: 03/22/2023)
03/22/2023 ORAL ORDER as to (22-Cr-398-1) Amit Bhardwaj. Sentencing set for 7/11/2023 at 10:00 AM in Courtroom 12C, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007 before Judge Gregory H. Woods. (bw) (Entered: 03/22/2023)