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Tech Exec Pleads Guilty to Role in Defrauding Qualcomm Out of More Than $150 Million

Tech Exec Pleads Guilty to Role in Defrauding Qualcomm Out of More Than $150 Million

One of many Qualcomm buildings is shown in San Diego, Calif., on Nov. 3, 2015. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

City News Service

City News Service

10/6/2023

Updated: 10/6/2023

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SAN DIEGO—The lead investor of a company that was sold to San Diego’s Qualcomm for more than $150 million—which prosecutors allege was part of a fraudulent scheme involving one of Qualcomm’s former employees—pleaded guilty Oct. 5 to a federal money laundering charge.
Ali Akbar Shokouhi, 64, of San Diego, was charged last year for his role in allegedly selling a microchip technology start-up known as Abreezio to the San Diego tech giant in 2015.
Though the sales pitch represented that Abreezio’s technology was invented by a Canadian grad student, prosecutors said it was not disclosed that the student was the sister of one of Mr. Shokouhi’s co-defendants, Karim Arabi.
Mr. Arabi actually created the technology at issue and did so while working as a vice president of research and development at Qualcomm, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors said Mr. Arabi’s employment agreements held that inventions he created would belong to Qualcomm, so the defendants hid his involvement with Abreezio.
Mr. Shokouhi, also a former Qualcomm employee, was actively involved in obscuring Mr. Arabi’s connection to Abreezio, according to his plea agreement. This included referring to Mr. Arabi by another name in his text messages with co-defendants.
Abreezio’s ex-CEO, Sanjiv Taneja, 60, of Cupertino, also pleaded guilty earlier this year to a money laundering charge.
Once Qualcomm began investigating the transaction, Mr. Arabi told Mr. Taneja to delete their email correspondences, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Prosecutors say the defendants laundered the money they received from the Abreezio sale through foreign real estate purchases and interest-free loans.
Mr. Shokouhi and Mr. Taneja await sentencing, while Mr. Arabi remains charged and is due back in court next month.
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