A senior executive at Netflix awarded lucrative contracts to two IT service providers in return for 12-15 percent cash kickbacks, and may have also accepted stock and gift cards from other companies in a corruption scheme that ran for years.
[company]Netflix[/company] makes these allegations in a complaint (embedded below) filed in California state court against Mike Kail, who was the company’s Vice President of Information Technology Operations from 2011 until August of this year, and who is now employed as CIO of [company]Yahoo[/company].
According to the complaint, Kail steered around $4.7 million worth of business to companies known as Vistara IT and Netenrich, which in turn paid Kail regular commission fees worth 12 to 15 percent of the contracts’ value. Netflix says it uncovered emails after Kail departed that describe “referral fees,” and that show invoices made out to “Unix Mercenary,” which is Kail’s personal consulting firm:
Netflix says Kail was able to get away with the scheme because he was a “trusted senior employee” and had power over approving invoices. The company also states that Kail asked [company]DocuSign[/company], which is a third party contract verification company, to transfer Netflix accounts to his personal name.
In the complaint, Netflix accuses Kail of various wrong-doings, including fraud, conversion and breach of fiduciary duty. The company seeks to cover the payouts made to Kail and Mercenary Unix as well as punitive damages and a range of fees.
Netflix does not name the other companies with which Kail may have arranged kickbacks in the form of stock and gift cards.
The seriousness of Kail’s alleged actions also raise the questions of whether Netflix will ask state authorities to pursue criminal charges against Kail, or against the two companies that paid him, both of which were founded by the same individual.
A Netflix spokesperson said by email that the company has no comment beyond what is in the complaint. Kail, whose Twitter profile says he is a lover of whiskey and “hater of mediocrity,” did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The allegations were first reported by Re/Code. Here’s a copy of the complaint:
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