Chinese man charged with stealing secret Ford documents
DETROIT — Investigators have uncovered a major industrial espionage case targeting secret Ford motor company design documents.
A federal indictement has been unsealed in Detroit charging Xiang Dong Yu, also known as Mike Yu, 47, with theft of trade secrets, attempted theft of trade secrets and unauthorized access to a protected computer at Ford.
Terrence Berg, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan said Yu, Chinese national from Beijing, was arrested on Oct. 14, 2009 at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport upon entering the United States from China.
According to the indictment, Yu was a product engineer for the Ford Motor Company from 1997 to 2007 and had access to Ford trade secrets, including Ford design documents.
In December 2006, Yu accepted a job at the China branch of a U.S. company.
The indictment alleges that on the eve of his departure from Ford and before he told Ford of his new job, Yu copied some 4,000 Ford documents onto an external hard drive, including sensitive Ford design documents.
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.
Ford has spent millions of dollars and decades on research, development and testing to develop and continuously improve the design specifications set forth in these documents.
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.
The indictment also alleges that Yu used stolen Ford documents in an effort to secure employment with a Chinese automotive company in 2008.
“Protecting the competitive edge technology of our companies through vigorous enforcement of our federal trade secret laws is a top priority of this office,” said Berg.
“ 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,” he said.
Yu remains in federal custody in Chicago where he is scheduled to have a detention hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. CST.
Each of the theft and attempted theft of trade secrets counts carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The count charging unauthorized access to a protected computer carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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