Couple Allegedly Stole GM Secrets for Chinese Companies

Michael Zak, AOL, November 6, 2012

A U.S. prosecutor said on Monday that a former General Motors engineer and her husband stole secrets related to the automaker’s hybrid technology with the intention of using the information to develop similar vehicles in China.

According to the prosecution, Shanshan Du stole information which GM values at over $40 million and gave it to her husband, Yu Qin, who sought to use in conjunction with GM’s competition in China.

“This case is about theft as well as deceit,” prosecutor Michael Martin said during the opening statements of the Detroit trial, according to Bloomberg. The defendants are “partners in life, partners in business and partners in crime.”

This is not the first time automakers have allegedly caught employees spying for Chinese companies. Last year, ex-Ford Motor Co. engineer Xiang Dong Yu was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing secrets from Ford. He’d copied 4,000 Ford designs worth millions of dollars the night before he quit the automaker. He then went to work for Beijing Automotive Industry Corp.

Espionage involving China has been seen in other industries as well. Last August, a former Motorola employee, Hanjuan Jin, was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing trade secrets. {snip}

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The defense argued that the items at issue weren’t trade secrets and were “completely useless” for other companies, Bloomberg reported. According to Robert Morgan, who is Du’s lawyer, the government tried to create dubious links that would add up to a story of espionage. Morgan said that the allegations came up at a time of great financial concern for the company and that Du faced racism, sexism and language barriers during her time with GM.

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