A former General Motors Co. (GM:US) engineer’s husband was sentenced to three years in prison for stealing hybrid technology trade secrets from the carmaker to help develop vehicles in China.
Yu Qin, the husband of the ex-GM employee, was accused of using the Detroit-based carmaker’s data to seek business ventures or employment with its competitors, including China’s Chery Automobile Co. His wife, Shanshan Du, who will also be sentenced today, was accused of copying GM’s private information on the motor control of hybrids and providing documents to her husband.
“This is an extremely serious case involving a serious crime,” U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani said at the sentencing hearing in federal court in Detroit today. “It is a crime in which our whole community, our whole economic structure is a victim.”
Qin was convicted in November of three counts of trade secrets theft, three of wire fraud and one of obstruction of justice. Du was convicted on three trade-secret counts.
“This is all my fault,” Qin said at the hearing. “I want to take full responsibility. I want to apologize to the court for all the trouble I caused.”
The secrets at issue were worth more than $40 million to General Motors, prosecutors said in a presentencing memorandum filed last week. The U.S. asked Battani to sentence Qin and Du to as long as 10 years and a month in prison.
The defendants, who had pleaded not guilty, said the information didn’t consist of trade secrets, wasn’t stolen and was useless for other companies. They sought probation.
The case is one of more than a dozen brought in the past three years by the U.S. Justice Department alleging defendants of Chinese ancestry or citizenship sought to take trade secrets from U.S.-based companies for use by the Chinese government or businesses. Qin and Du are both U.S. citizens.
The case is U.S. v. Qin, 10-cr-20454, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).
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