On Wednesday, the U.S Attorney’s office in Philadelphia announced indictments against 5 individuals, listing charges of conspiracy to steal trade secrets, wire fraud and money laundering from the British based pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
“GSK’S trade secrets were vital to the ability of GSK to successfully operate its business. GSK derives value from trade secret and otherwise confidential information by developing and selling pharmaceutical produces,” stated the U.S Attorney’s announcement. The theft of the research represented an opportunity of “millions of dollars to rival pharmaceutical companies.”
The indictment listed those facing charges as: Yu Xue of Wayne, PA; Tao Li of Nanjing, China; Yan Mei, of Nanjing China; Tian Xue, Charlotte, NC; and Lucy Xi of West Lake Village, CA. Two of the five indicted, Yu Xue and Lucy Xi are former researchers for GSK, working at the company’s research facility in Upper Merion, PA.
“Yu Xue was regarded as one of the top protein biochemists in the world”, noted the announcement.
The U.S. Attorney also highlighted her work as a co-leader on GSK’s monoclonal antibody design as evidence of her high-level access to GSK’s research data.
Working with Yu Xue and Lucy Xi, the other conspirators established companies in order to collect and market the stolen research, under the collective name Renopharma. Branches were established in Delaware, Nanjing and Shanghai.
The case, if successful, could potentially evidence concerns of Chinese companies being involved in intellectual property theft. China’s own pharmaceutical industry has seen legislative support from Beijing that permitted the production of generic versions of still patented medication.
Yan Mei, who is evidenced in emails and witnesses in China as helping marketing stolen information on behalf of Renopharma, is the only member of the conspiracy who remains at-large.
Yu Xue has received legal assistance from Peter Zeidenberg of the Arent Fox legal firm, who stated through email that Yu Xue has maintained a plea of not guilty. Mr. Zeidenberg has in the past noted his concern of an emerging pattern which he believes displays Chinese Americans being targeted by U.S authorities.
“It’s one of many cases brought against Chinese Americans in the last several years, some of which have been proved to be vastly overstated,” Mr. Zeidenberg stated.
Mr. Zeidenberg successfully represented Chinese American Xiaoxing Xi, who was cleared of selling superconductor research owned by the University of Philadelphia.
[Reuters] [Financial Times] [BBC News] [Philadelphia Media Network] [United States Attorneys Office] [Photo courtesy bigstockphoto.com/grae84]