That Bricsnet embezzlement case….

Embezzlement allegations against former Bricsnet CEO Ethan Farid Jinian will be discussed in a San Francisco court next month.

Following an email from a reader, I notice that it’s well over a year since I last wrote about the indictment in California of former Bricsnet CEO Ethan Farid Jinian on embezzlement charges (see November 2009 post). And it is almost exactly 12 months since the Jinian case was colourfully described in a San Francisco magazine.

According to a 6 January 2010 SFWeekly article by Matt Smith, Jinian was subsequently released on US$500,000 bail and his attorney Doug Schwartz sounded confident his client would be exonerated. “It’s just a civil business dispute concerning how much salary he was entitled to, how he was paid, and the methods and forms this salary was paid,” he said.

The article suggests “Jinian may very well be found not guilty of the charges against him,” but the picture painted of Jinian’s business career is not a pretty one, and Bricsnet’s portrayal hints at lax management:

“Bricsnet was mostly virtual: Only a third of the 30-person staff actually showed up at the San Francisco office, while the rest worked remotely. Its main investors, meanwhile, were in Spain, making it even harder to monitor employees.

“Like many technology companies of the 2000s, Bricsnet was desperate to re-invent itself. It had useful software, but hadn’t manage to turn it into a thriving business….

“That precariousness made underlings all the more willing to believe in this unusual business seer. And Jinian “always tried to portray a vision for finding a new path,” said one technology executive who didn’t want to be named.”

Smith says federal  prosecutors are focused on what is described as a two-year scheme to defraud Bricsnet of £1m. Jinian is alleged to have directed employees “to cut him numerous checks, based on the idea that he was owed salary in addition to his annual salary”. The indictment (PDF here) details 14 payments totalling $236,000 in 2008.

Whether this was embezzlement or a simple misunderstanding over pay may be determined at a trial, and I have just learned that a motion hearing has been scheduled for Thursday 3 February 2011 before Judge James Larson in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

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