The former Qualcomm CEO has admitted deceiving the chip maker into spending $180 million to buy its technology

Sanjeev Taneja, one of three men indicted last year after robbing chipmaker Qualcomm of more than $150 million, has pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering involving a $1.5 million deal related to money that Taneja and other defendants conned out of Qualcomm. . The San Diego-based company was duped into purchasing technology that actually belonged to the company according to the San Diego Union Tribune. The other two defendants are Karim Arabi and Ali Akbar Shakouhi.
Arabi, while working at Qualcomm as the company’s vice president of research and development, devised a method for evaluating microprocessors during the “design-to-test” phase that was faster than other methods. Under his employment contract, any intellectual property he created while working for Qualcomm belonged to the company.

But Taneja admitted in the plea agreement that he and his co-defendants had decided they wanted to benefit personally from the invention rather than turn it over to Qualcomm. So they came up with a plan to hide Arab’s involvement in a startup that said it owned technology that technically belonged to the chip maker.

Arabi was still employed by Qualcomm when the company was negotiating with the startup and was still around when Qualcomm agreed to buy him. Qualcomm wanted the startup so it could acquire the technology that El-Araby had pioneered at Qualcomm; In other words, the chip maker was buying its own technology. Qualcomm was told that the startup was funded by angel investors. These are wealthy individuals who help finance a small business in exchange for equity in the company. Qualcomm agreed to pay the startup $180 million with $150 million in cash up front.

Qualcomm did not know that its employee had created the technology it had purchased because it was said to have been invented by a Canadian graduate student working for the startup. Arabi’s younger “sister” acted as the student and was listed as an inventor in the provisional patents even though her brother filed the patent applications using fake email accounts to hide his identity.

Acting US Attorney Andrew R. Hadin: “Fraud and deception undermine legitimate businesses and the marketplace, whether they are victimized by small businesses or multinationals and their shareholders. This office will seek justice against offenders, both big and small.”

Qualcomm is a fables chip manufacturer which means that while it designs its own chips, it does not have the facilities to manufacture them. Thus, the company relies on contract foundries such as TSMC and Samsung Foundry, and has used these two companies to manufacture its Snapdragon line of application processors. Currently, TSMC is building Qualcomm’s current chipset, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

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