Last Friday, November 30, former General Motors engineer Shanshan Du and her husband Yu Qin were found by a jury of nine women and three men guilty of conspiring to steal the Detroit carmaker’s trade secrets.
The 53-year old Du was found guilty of conspiracy to possess trade secrets without authorization and two counts of trade secrets, and not guilty of three counts of wire fraud. Her 51-year old husband was found guilty on all six counts, as well as a seventh, that is obstruction of justice.
The couple was charged in 2010 with trying to steal GM trade secrets concerning hybrid technology with the intent to pass them on to China’s Chery Automobile through the Millennium Technology International firm it owned.
According to the court, in January 2005, Du copied thousands of GM documents to an external hard drive five days after she was offered a severance agreement that she accepted, leaving the company two months later.
In August 2005, the couple sent a series of emails to Chery proposing a joint venture and in November Qin, who had been working as an electrical engineer, applied for a job as a hybrid engineer, including on his resume some of the stolen GM technology.
The couple’s attorneys said that the documents in question were not trade secrets, while GM declined to comment on the issue.
The sentence will be announced in February next year. The trade secret counts carry a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and a US$250,000 fine and the wire fraud counts and obstruction count each carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of US$250,000.
By Andrew TsaousisStory References: Reuters