On Thursday, June 10, a U.S. District Court judge sentenced a 37-year-old Bothell man to prison for illegal trading using Amazon’s inside information that he obtained from his wife, according to the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.
Viky Bohra pleaded guilty to fraudulently trading Amazon’s stock and options in the time periods preceding the company’s public announcements of its earnings, according to court documents. Bohra’s wife worked in the finance department and had access to the business’s total revenue and expenses and other internal accounting information that was not public.
Judge James L. Robart sentenced Bohra to 26 months in prison; As part of the plea agreement, his wife, who’s no longer employed at Amazon, will not face criminal charges.
Bohra’s trading took place between January 2016 and July 2018 and amassed a profit of $1,428,264, court documents state. During this time, the Bothell resident accepted a position at Microsoft.
“The Bohras had high-paying, stable employment at two of the largest employers in the Seattle area,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memorandum, “and yet, Bohra’s greed drove him to commit a years-long insider trading scheme.”
As an Amazon employee, Bohra’s wife and her immediate relatives were subject to “blackout periods,” during which they were not allowed to trade the company’s stock. They were also prohibited from trading Amazon’s securities while in possession of non-public information and passing the information on to others.
The FBI investigated the incident, and in interviews with the agency, Bohra said that the scheme had been his idea and his wife had been hesitant to go along. He said he had to repeatedly ask her for information before she provided any. According to a transcript from an interview with the FBI, Bohra said his wife didn’t “get into the specifics.”
“It was more of a conversation, and just asking for her feedback,” he said.
Bohra engaged in inside trading ahead of 11 consecutive earnings announcements, the documents show. In the first two quarters of his activity, he made $51,950 and $660,000 respectively. However, in the third quarter, he lost $882,318, which prosecutors attributed to his “being greedy and placing risky options trades with sky high strike prices.”
In the sentencing memorandum, prosecutors noted that the family did “not live lavishly or spend extravagantly” with the profits from the illegal trading, and that most of the money was generated into retirement accounts.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Bohra in a civil insider trading case in September 2020, according to a press release from the U.S. attorney’s office. His family has paid $2,652,899 in disgorgement, interest and penalties. Based on these payments, the United States did not seek forfeiture in this case, the release states.
Prosecutors sought a 33-month sentence and wrote to the court that it should “give little weight to the collateral consequences the family may face as a result of this prosecution and the SEC’s civil action.”
The consequences include Bohra’s wife’s suspension from practicing accounting at publicly traded companies and the separation of their young son and his father during the prison term.
“While it is regrettable that Bohra will be separated from his child,” the prosecutors wrote, “the negative consequences he and the family may face flow naturally from the insider trading scheme at issue here.”