Dec 1, 2012 / 7:18 am
A former General Motors engineer with access to the automaker's hybrid technology was convicted Friday along with her husband of stealing trade secrets for possible use in China.
Shanshan Du won a transfer within GM in 2003 to be closer to the technology and then copied documents until she accepted a severance offer and left the company in 2005, prosecutors said.
Du, 54, and Yu Qin, 51, were found guilty Friday by a federal jury in Detroit after a trial that lasted weeks. Qin also was convicted of wire fraud and attempting to obstruct justice by shredding documents. They shook each other's hand after the verdict but declined to comment, as did their attorneys.
Du faces up to 10 years in prison, while her husband faces up to 30. No sentencing date has been set.
Prosecutors told jurors that GM trade secrets were found on at least seven computers owned by the Oakland County couple. The government doesn't believe the information ever made it to China, although Qin had set up his own company, Millennium Technology International, and claimed to have made contact with GM competitors overseas.
Defence lawyers acknowledged that GM information was in the couple's possession, but they downplayed the commercial significance.
In her closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathleen Corken said Du was the "linchpin" in the scheme because of her job at the automaker.
"It can't happen without her," the prosecutor said Thursday.
Corken noted that the agents kept an eye on the couple after searching their home in 2006 and watched Qin dump shredded documents in a grocery store Dumpster.
"Is that the conduct of innocent people?" she asked.
Corken said the technology was worth at least $40 million, the price that other automakers paid GM to get it.
Du and Qin, both U.S. citizens, had been under scrutiny for years after GM accused them of theft. They were charged in 2006 with destroying documents sought by investigators, but that case was dropped while investigators pursued a broader probe that led to an indictment in 2010.
It's not the first trade secrets prosecution in the Detroit auto industry. In 2011, an engineer who stole information from Ford Motor Co. was sentenced to nearly six years in prison.
Xiang Dong Yu, also known as Mike Yu, admitted copying thousands of documents with details on engine transmission systems and electrical power supply before leaving Ford to work for a Chinese competitor in 2008.
"We are committed to protecting Michigan's technology, and we hope that this prosecution will send a message that stealing proprietary information from an employer or competitor is a serious crime," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said.
Read more Business News
|QHR Technologies Inc||1.15||-0.04|
|Anavex Life Sciences||0.34||+0.025|
|Copper Mountain Mining||1.53||-0.05|
Big Picture Bank earnings and upbeat economic news highlight an active week In contrast with last week’s quieter, U.S. holiday-shortened week, the first week of December was a comparatively acti...
This column is the last of three, for how to prove your personal injury claim. It is the piece de resistance of the trilogy, the Chuck Norris piece – the final say! As mentioned in the first two...
The bank manager just phoned and asked for full and immediate repayment of the line of credit because the latest, (and they were late!), financial statements showed continuing losses and falling sales...
- US unemployment aid applications surge to 368,000, reflecting bump in claims after holiday
- BoC's Poloz says low interest rates needed to keep deflation at bay
- New house prices rose in October after flat September: StatsCan
- Net foreign debt down $41.1B in Q3: StatsCan
- Some Tim Hortons stores now accept payments by BlackBerry, iPhone, Android phone
- Ski-doo maker BRP sees profit climb 52 per cent in Q3, raises its forecast
- Kirkland Lake Gold reports loss of $3.9 million in second quarter
- Celebrity tutors thrive in Hong Kong's pressure cooker race for university admission
- Audit finds Google executives improperly saved millions on jet fuel
- Japan plans $53 billion stimulus to rev up faltering recovery, counter tax hike
- Japan plans $53 billion stimulus
- Report: Chinese girl fatally struck after Asiana plane crash was hit by 2 separate fire trucks