Posted on September 17, 2018

Chinese Scientist Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Steal Trade Secrets from Drug Giant GlaxoSmithKline

Annie Wu, Epoch Times, September 16, 2018

A Chinese national has pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal trade secrets from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to benefit a Chinese drug company he helped start that’s backed by Chinese-regime funding.

Li Tao, 45, is the second person to plead guilty in a scheme that involves five co-defendants, including his friends Xue Yu and Mei Yan.

According to the Justice Department, Xue funneled key documents from GSK to Li and Mei that contained information about biopharmaceutical products that were under development, including research data and manufacturing processes related to those products. Xue usually used email or portable storage devices to transfer the documents.

Such products usually cost “in excess of $1 billion dollars” to research and develop, the Justice Department said.

On Jan. 5, 2016, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) arrested Li and seized his computer, where officials found GSK documents sent by Xue, who was employed at GSK to develop biopharmaceutical products, according to a press release by the U.S. Justice Department on Sept. 14. {snip} She faces up to 10 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge on Aug. 31.

“The lifeblood of companies like GSK is its intellectual property, and when that property is stolen and transferred to a foreign country, it threatens thousands of jobs here in America. {snip}”.

Li will be sentenced on Jan. 4, 2019, at a federal court in Philadelphia. He also faces up to a decade in prison.

Li, also a scientist, along with Xue and Mei, established a Chinese pharmaceutical company, Renopharma, based in the city of Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, that was marketed as specializing in the development of anti-cancer drugs.

On Chinese job-recruitment websites, Renopharma was touted as a “high-tech biopharmaceutical company established by several PhD scientists who studied in the U.S. and has returned to China.”

“In reality, though, Renopharma was used as a repository of stolen information from GSK,” the Justice Department release stated. The UK-based GSK is one of the world’s largest drug companies.

Renopharma received financial support and subsidies from the Chinese government. {snip}

A Pattern of Chinese Espionage

This is the latest in a string of cases involving Chinese nationals conducting science and tech-related espionage beneficial to Beijing.


Since then, cases of economic espionage from Chinese actors have sprung up one after the other.