Man charged with fraud in scheme to divert software licence payments

Man charged with fraud in scheme to divert software licence payments

Kevin Chao also allegedly secretly steered software development work to entities he controlled; with two others also charged with conspiracy.

Published on 24th July 2023

Kevin Chao, a former executive at a technology company with offices in San Jose, Calif., appeared on charges he engaged in a years-long scheme to defraud his employer by directing millions of dollars of business to entities he controlled and by diverting more than $2 million in software license fees to benefit himself and co-conspirators, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey and Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp. Richard Sze and Suryanarayana Murthy Bobba, both former employees of the same technology company as Chao, face related charges. Chao made his initial appearance before the Honorable Nathanael M. Cousins, United States Magistrate Judge.

Chao, 64, of Mountain View, was charged in an Information filed July 19, 2023. Chao was a former Global Business Director at a technology company identified in the Information as Company-1. According to the Information, Chao had a duty of loyalty to, and a duty to disclose outside business to, Company-1. Instead, the Information alleges, Chao engaged in a scheme in which he directed millions of dollars in business to entities in which he had an interest but kept his control and financial interest secret from Company-1.

There were various aspects of the alleged scheme. First, the Information alleges Chao defrauded his employer by working with other company employees, Sze, 56, of Saratoga, Calif. and Bobba, 55, of Los Altos, Calif., to direct software development service contracts to Zillsoft, a company they controlled. Chao, Sze, and Bobba did not inform Company-1 that they controlled Zillsoft. Chao allegedly directed millions of dollars in business to Zillsoft, then split the profits with Sze and Bobba. The Information further alleges Chao continued the scheme by arranging for the sale of Zillsoft to a third entity that also performed work for Company-1, and the co-conspirators again secretly profited from Company-1’s business with that entity.

According to the Information, Chao and Sze formed another entity, SPSoft China, also to steer contracts and payments to themselves. Chao profited about $5.4 million from this arrangement. He concealed his control and interest in the company from Company-1 to continue to direct millions of dollars in business to the entity, according to the allegations.

In another aspect of the scheme, Chao and Bobba arranged for Company-1 to obtain a license to a software program for Company-1, and then secretly arranged to divert more than $2 million to themselves without disclosing the diversion to Company-1.

Chao originally was arrested on October 29, 2021, on a criminal complaint. Chao is charged with one count of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. After today’s appearance, Magistrate Judge Cousins released Chao on bond. Chao’s next appearance is scheduled for October 17, 2023, before Hon. Beth Labson Freeman, U.S. District Judge.

Sze was also previously arrested on a criminal complaint unsealed on October 29, 2021. Sze is now charged by an Information filed on April 24, 2023. Sze is charged with one count of conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 317, and he made his initial appearance on the Information on May 9, 2023. Sze was previously released pending further proceedings. Sze is set for a change of plea hearing before Judge Freeman on October 3, 2023.

Bobba was charged by an Information filed on April 24, 2023, with one count of conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 317. He made his initial appearance on the Information on May 16, 2023, and was released on bond. Bobba is set for a status conference before Judge Freeman on October 10, 2023.

The Informations and criminal complaints contain mere allegations that crimes have been committed and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Chao faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, and defendants Bobba and Sze face a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment. Each defendant faces a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate, for each violation. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

The case is being prosecuted by the Corporate and Securities Fraud Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and forfeiture is being handled by the Office’s Asset Forfeiture Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chris Kaltsas and Sailaja M. Paidipaty are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elizabeth Kim. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


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