Feds charge couple in $40M theft of GM hybrid car tech for Chinese company

FBI investigation leads to charges of trade secret theft

An FBI investigation has lead a Michigan couple to be charged with stealing hybrid car information from GM to use in a Chinese auto outfit.

A federal indictment charged Yu Qin, aka Yu Chin, 49, and his wife, Shanshan Du, aka Shannon Du, 51, of Troy, Michigan with conspiracy to possess trade secrets without authorization, unauthorized possession of trade secrets, and wire fraud. One of the individuals was also charged with obstruction of justice, said Barbara McQuade, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan in a statement. GM estimates that the value of the stolen documents is over $40 million.

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According to the indictment, from December 2003 to May 2006, the defendants conspired to possess trade secret information of General Motors relating to hybrid vehicles, knowing that the information had been stolen, converted, or obtained without authorization. The indictment alleges that Du, while employed with GM, provided GM trade secret information relating to hybrid vehicles to her husband, Qin, for his benefit and for the benefit of a company, Millennium Technology International Inc., that the defendants owned and operated.

Approximately five days after Du was offered a severance agreement by GM in January 2005, she copied thousands of GM documents, including trade secret documents, to an external computer hard drive used for MTI business. A few months later, Qin moved forward on a new business venture to provide hybrid vehicle technology to Chery Automobile, a Chinese automotive manufacturer based in China and a competitor of GM. The indictment further alleges that in May 2006, the defendants possessed GM trade secret information without authorization on several computer and electronic devices located in their residence, according to the statement.

The indictment also charges the defendants dumped plastic bags containing shredded documents in a dumpster after they were subpoenaed by a federal grand jury looking for  information relating to MTI and hybrid vehicles.

The conspiracy to possess trade secrets without authorization count and each of the counts charging unauthorized possession of trade secrets carry a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The wire fraud counts each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The obstruction of justice count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, according to the release from McQuade's office. 

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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