Two Convicted In Conspiracy To Steal GM Trade Secrets
A former General Motors engineer and her husband were convicted by a federal jury today in Detroit for conspiring to steal hybrid technology trade secrets from GM with the intent to use them in a joint venture with an automotive competitor in China, announced U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by Robert D. Foley, III, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Shanshan Du, 51, and her husband, Yu Qin, 49, of Troy, Michigan were also convicted of unlawful possession of trade secrets after the month-long trial before U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani. Qin was also convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
The evidence at trial showed that from December 2003 through May 2006, the defendants conspired to steal GM's trade secret information. Du, while employed with GM's hybrid vehicle technology group, provided GM trade secret information relating to hybrid vehicles to her husband, Qin, for the benefit of their private company, Millennium Technology International Inc. (MTI), which the defendants jointly owned and operated. Approximately five days after Du was offered a severance agreement by GM in January 2005, she copied more than 16,000 GM files, including trade secret documents, to an external computer hard drive used for MTI business. A few months later, Qin moved forward on a business venture to provide hybrid vehicle technology to Chery Automobile, an automotive manufacturer based in China and a competitor of GM.
In May 2006, during the execution of a search warrant, the FBI recovered multiple computer devices containing GM trade secret information on several computer and electronic devices located in the defendants' residence. Shortly after the FBI search team left the defendants' residence, the defendants drove to a dumpster behind a grocery store where defendant Qin discarded plastic bags containing shredded documents, including GM trade secret information, that were responsive to federal grand jury subpoenas seeking information relating to MTI and hybrid vehicles.
GM has been involved in the development and production of hybrid vehicles for more than a decade and has invested many millions of dollars in the research and development of hybrid vehicles. Based on preliminary calculations, GM estimates that the value of the stolen GM documents is more than $40 million.
"These defendants stole trade secrets, which General Motors spent many years and millions of dollars to develop, to give an unfair advantage to a foreign competitor," McQuade said. "Stealing trade secrets harms Michigan businesses and costs jobs. 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."
Special Agent in Foley said, "This conviction comes as the result of countless hours of hard work by FBI agents and federal prosecutors. The FBI is committed to pursuing and prosecuting anyone who steals trade secrets from the automotive industry."
The defendants face a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years on each of the three trade secret counts of conviction. Yu faces an additional maximum term of imprisonment of thirty years on each of the three wire fraud counts of conviction and a maximum of twenty years on the obstruction of justice count. A sentencing date will be set by the Court in February 2013.
U.S. Attorney McQuade thanked the FBI for the successful investigation of the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cathleen Corkin, Michael Martin and Linda Aouate.