Ford employee caught sending company secrets to China
A Ford Motor Co. employee has been charged with stealing its trade secrets for the Chinese, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Xiang Dong Yu, also known as Mike Yu, 47, of Beijing, China, was arrested on Wednesday at Chicago O'Hare International Airport when he tried to re-enter the country from China. He has been charged with theft of trade secrets, attempted theft of trade secrets and unauthorized access to a protected computer, according to U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg.
According to the indictment, Yu was a product engineer for Ford from 1997 to 2007 and had access to Ford trade secrets. Law enforcement officials say that just prior to leaving Ford, Yu copied approximately 4,000 Ford documents, including what they described as "sensitive Ford design documents" onto a portable hard drive.
"Included in those documents were system design specifications for the engine/transmission mounting subsystem, electrical distribution system, electric power supply, electrical subsystem and generic body module, among others," the Justice Department said in a statement released this afternoon. "The indictment also alleges that Yu took Ford design documents to China in July 2005 in conjunction with his efforts to obtain employment with a Chinese automotive company. Lastly, the indictment alleges that Yu used stolen Ford documents in an effort to secure employment with a Chinese automotive company in 2008."
The theft and attempted theft of trade secrets counts each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The computer-related charge carries a maximum penalty of five years and a $250,000 fine.
"Protecting the competitive edge technology of our companies through vigorous enforcement of our federal trade secret laws is a top priority of this office," Berg said in a statement. "Both employees and employers should be aware that stealing proprietary trade secrets to gain an economic advantage is a serious federal offense that will be prosecuted aggressively."