California Firms Accuse CFO of Embezzling

     IRVINE, Calif. (CN) – Two companies say in court that their CFO embezzled millions to pay for homes for his wife and girlfriend, a Lamborghini, and lavish Las Vegas parties.
     Deepak Kharbanda, of Orange County, Calif., allegedly first began working for Applied GeoKinetics and Advanced Construction Technologies in 2004 and soon became chief financial officer for both companies.
     “Unfortunately, Kharbanda’s substantial CFO salary and partial ownership interest would not support the lavish lifestyle he had created and insisted upon living,” the May 21 complaint filed in superior court states.
     The companies say, somewhere along the way, Kharbanda “conspired” with his girlfriend, Jonna Kosso, “to steal and embezzle literally millions of dollars.”
     Romantically involved with Kharbanda since 2011, Kosso is “seasonally employed in Las Vegas, Nevada, as a cocktail waitress in a gentleman’s club and/or adult-oriented night club,” according to the complaint.
     Kharbanda’s fraud came to light when in April 2015 when a majority shareholder uncovered “declining profits over the past few years” at the companies, prompting an internal review.
     The companies allegedly found a number of discrepancies records, including that Kharbanda had begun receiving hourly wages from Advanced Construction Technologies without permission.
     Kharbanda had also cashed in his vacation time “at an exorbitant hourly rate,” hired outside firms to perform the work he was hired to do, and gave a loan to one employee and cashed in nonexistent vacation time for another, according to the complaint.
     During the more than six years of Kharbanda’s embezzlement, the CFO “stole, or improperly diverted to his girlfriend Koso and others, funds in excess of $2.5 million (and likely approaching $3 million),” the lawsuit claims.
     Kharbanda relied on his information-technology background to manipulate his employers’ accounting software and electronically transfer funds “to two separate bank accounts which were controlled by himself, All Star, Koso, or other co-conspirators,” according to the complaint.
     The companies say Kharbanda formed All Star Technology to defraud them.
     In addition to using the embezzled funds to buy one home for his wife and another for Koso, Kharbanda also “chartered private jets for travel to/from Las Vegas, Miami, and other vacation destinations,” where he threw lavish parties, according to the complaint.
     To avoid questions about the $200,000 Lamborghini he was leasing, Kharbanda would allegedly park the luxury vehicle “several blocks from the GeoKinetics/ACT offices, and then walk the rest of the way to work.”
     Kharbanda also paid for Koso’s family to travel from Finland to California to visit Disneyland, using the embezzled funds, the complaint states.
     The complaint describes Applied GeoKinetics as a geotechnical and environmental engineering consulting firm, and ACT as a provider of specialized construction services. Kharbanda allegedly oversaw the business and accounting department that the companies share.
     In addition to Kharbanda, Koso and All Star, the complaint names as defendants Wescom Central Credit Union, E*Trade Financial Corporate Services and E*Trade Financial Corp.
     It says E*Trade and Wescom may have possession of the plaintiffs’ funds or property. Neither defendant immediately returned a request for comment.
     Applied GeoKinetics and Advanced Construction Technologies seek damages for breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent concealment and conversion.
     They are represented by Robert Green and Michael Fairchild of Green & Hall in Santa Ana.
     Attempts to reach Kharbanda before press time were unsuccessful.

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