Shanshan Du, 53, former engineer at General Motors along with husband Yu Qin, 51, have been found guilty of stealing trade secrets with regard to hybrid vehicles from General Motors and selling the same to China’s Chery Automobile Co. The trial lasted over a month and Qin was convicted on seven counts while Du was convicted on three counts.
Chery Automobile Co, is General Motors’ Chinese competitors and what Qin did was attempted to sell this information to gain employment with the Chinese auto major and form a JV. These secrets were worth over $40 million which GM had spent years and millions of dollars to develop.
The court revealed that Du copied files which included GM’s technological data on an external hard drive in Jan 2005 over a period of five days. Later, GM offered her a severance agreement, which she accepted and after two months she left the company. In Aug 2005, Du and Qin, sent the stolen GM mails to Chery, proposing a JV.
After not getting a proper response from Chery over JV, in Nov 2005, Qin, who had been working as an electrical engineer, applied for a job at Chery, but as a hybrid engineer. Along with applying, Qin added the stolen technology from GM as his own on his resume.
Defense lawyers have found hard evidence in the form of 16,262 stolen files on Du’s computer which put the final nail in the coffin. The couple now faces upto 10 years of imprisonment and fines to the tune of $250,000 on the charges of selling trade secrets. They also face 20 years imprisonment and $250,000 fine on the charge of wire fraud. The sentence will be announced in February 2013.