Fry's exec busted for embezzeling over $65M

Seems like we need a good recession every now and then to shake out the rats. Amid similar revelations in finance and politics, the tech industry has a major white-collar crook of its own in the form of Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, who has been accused by the IRS of collecting over $65 million in kickbacks from suppliers in exchange for keeping their products well-stocked on the shelves of Fry's stores. The San Francisco Chronicle has the story:

The IRS claims Siddiqui started striking side deals with some of the suppliers, in which he would guarantee he'd keep their products stocked on Fry's shelves, in exchange for kickbacks in the form of steep commissions paid to a company he set up called PC International.

Siddiqui apparently used the money he collected to fund a high-stakes gambling addiction, in which Vegas casinos supplied private planes to fly him into town. Soon, he could have his own taxpayer-provided jumpsuit and serial number, too.

Multiple outlets are reporting that a fellow Fry's executive became aware of the scheme when he discovered spreadsheets detailing kickback payments on Siddiqui's desk. The executive passed along those documents to the IRS as evidence.

The San Jose Mercury News has some additional details, including the text of a letter to Siddiqui from one vendor, Lead Data International, expressing worry about the large kickback payments potentially attracting attention:

In another letter, the LDI executive worried that, "Without new arrangement, I am afraid high amount of commission will bring unnecessary attention from CPA and SEC-Taiwan," that is, the Taiwanese Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Mercury News also reports that the $65 million figure may only be a portion of the money Siddiqui collected, noting that he withdrew $162 million from his shell company's checking account between January '05 and November '08.

(Thanks to sluggo for the tip.)

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