6 Chinese nationals accused of economic espionage

Six Chinese nationals have been accused of stealing trade secrets by the U.S. government. The story came to light after one of the nationals, Hao Zhang , was arrested after arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport. At least two of the defendants are university professors back in China, and three are University of Southern California alumni. They are accused of gathering confidential information about a specific type of mobile phone chip.

The indictment alleges that the men stole “recipes, source code, specifications, presentations, design layouts and other documents marked as confidential.”

After graduating in 2006 from USC, two of the men were hired at separate U.S. technology companies. Zhang was hired at Skyworks Solutions, and another national, Wei Pang, was employed at Avago Technologies.

They worked in the States for three years before returning to China in 2009 to teach at Tianjin University, located near Beijing. During their U.S. employment the government says the men conspired about the theft over email.
The investigation into the economic espionage was launched after the men took the information they had stolen back to China, and began to patent the chip design.

Avago learned about the thefts from the patent applications in the fall of 2011, according to the indictment, which states that on a trip to China later that year, Mr. Pang’s old boss, Rich Ruby, dropped by his former colleague’s new lab, where he recognized technology stolen from Avago and confronted Mr. Pang about “stealing and using Avago trade secrets.”

The nationals are being indicted under the Economic Espionage Act. Mr. Zhang remains in U.S. custody. The five other individuals are believed to still be in China.


[Associated Press] [Wall Street Journal] [Image via AP]