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eLance founder indicted on fraud charges

The Web-based marketplace for freelancers is keeping mum following the indictment of its general manager on securities fraud charges.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers-backed eLance, a Web-based marketplace for freelancers, is keeping mum following the indictment of its founder and general manager on securities fraud charges.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday said it had charged Srinivas Anumolu--known to coworkers as Srini--with accepting kickbacks during his pre-eLance tenure as a securities trader for New York Life Insurance.

"I can only tell you at this point that we have no statement in the matter," said Maria Miller, vice president of marketing for eLance, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. "We can't comment on the situation for legal reasons."

Since its launch in 1999, eLance has raised more than $66 million in institutional funding, including a $50 million round led by Kleiner Perkins in February 2000. Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr sits on the company's board of directors.

The SEC charged Anumolu and his New York Life co-worker Anthony Dong-Yin Shen with taking kickbacks and other "improper gifts and gratuities" from other brokerages.

The SEC said that Ronald Pinto, then at Nomura Securities, had paid the pair a total of more than $450,000 in kickbacks. Others were charged with giving Shen lesser amounts.

In return, Anumolu and Shen funneled transactions to the brokers at prices disadvantageous to New York Life, the SEC alleged.

Anumolu the other traders face criminal charges as well as the SEC's civil suit. Anumolu is in prison awaiting a hearing Tuesday, according to a Reuters report.

One associate of Anumolu, who declined to be identified, expressed concerns that Anumolu, who is not a citizen, could face deportation if found guilty.