SEC Charges Former Chief Information Security Officer and Four Friends in Insider Trading Ring

Litigation Release No. 25450 / July 26, 2022

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Amit Bhardwaj, et al., No. 1:22-cv-06277 (S.D.N.Y. filed July 25, 2022)

The Securities and Exchange Commission on July 25, 2022 filed insider trading charges against Amit Bhardwaj, the former Chief Information Security Officer of Lumentum Holdings Inc., and his friends Dhirenkumar Patel, Srinivasa Kakkera, Abbas Saeedi, and Ramesh Chitor.

According to the SEC's complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, Bhardwaj, Patel, Kakkera, Saeedi, and Chitor traded ahead of two corporate acquisition announcements by Lumentum, thereby generating more than $5.2 million in illicit profits. The SEC's complaint alleges that, through his work at Lumentum, Bhardwaj learned material nonpublic information (MNPI) about the company's plans to first acquire Coherent, Inc. and later acquire NeoPhotonics Corporation. Based on this MNPI, Bhardwaj allegedly purchased Coherent securities ahead of the January 2021 announcement of Lumentum's agreement to acquire Coherent and tipped his friend Patel, with the understanding that Patel would later share some of his ill-gotten gains. The SEC further alleges that, during October 2021, Bhardwaj shared MNPI about Lumentum's planned acquisition of NeoPhotonics with his friends Kakkera, Saeedi, and Chitor, who then amassed large positions of NeoPhotonics based on Bhardwaj's tips. After the November 2021 announcement of the NeoPhotonics acquisition, Chitor indirectly transferred funds to Bhardwaj's relative in India, as instructed by Bhardwaj.

The case originated from the SEC Enforcement Division's Market Abuse Unit (MAU) Analysis and Detection Center, which uses data analysis tools to detect suspicious trading patterns.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York on July 25, 2022 announced criminal charges against Bhardwaj, Patel, Kakkera, Saeedi, and Chitor.

The SEC's complaint charges all five defendants with violating the antifraud provisions of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 [15 U.S.C. § 78j(b)] and Rule 10b-5 thereunder [17 C.F.R. § 240.10b-5] and seeks permanent injunctive relief, disgorgement with prejudgment interest, and civil penalties.

In addition to the relief described above, the SEC's complaint seeks disgorgement of illicit profits with prejudgment interest from relief defendants Gauri Salwan, the Kakkera Family Trust, All US Tacos Inc., and Janya Saeedi.

The SEC's investigation, which is ongoing, was conducted by Ann Marie Preissler, Joshua Geller, John Rymas, and Simona Suh of the MAU, and by Elzbieta Wraga of the New York Regional Office. This case has been supervised by MAU Chief Joseph G. Sansone. Ms. Preissler, Mr. Geller, and Ms. Suh will lead the SEC's litigation. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.