VOL. 127 | NO. 235 | Monday, December 3, 2012
Couple Convicted of Stealing General Motors Trade Secrets
ED WHITE | Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) – A former General Motors engineer with access to the automaker's hybrid technology was convicted Friday along with her husband of stealing trade secrets for possible use in China.
Shanshan Du won a transfer within GM in 2003 to be closer to the technology and then copied documents until she accepted a severance offer and left the company in 2005, prosecutors said.
Du and Yu Qin were found guilty Friday by a federal jury in Detroit after a trial that lasted weeks. Qin also was convicted of wire fraud and attempting to obstruct justice by shredding documents. They shook each other's hand after the verdict but declined to comment along with their attorneys.
Prosecutors told jurors that GM trade secrets were found on at least seven computers owned by the Oakland County couple. The government doesn't believe the information ever made it to China, although Qin had set up his own company, Millennium Technology International, and claimed to have made contact with GM competitors overseas.
Defense lawyers acknowledged that GM information was in the suburban Detroit couple's possession, but they downplayed the commercial significance.
In her closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathleen Corken said Du was the "linchpin" in the scheme because of her job at the automaker.
"It can't happen without her," the prosecutor said Thursday.
Corken noted that the agents kept an eye on the couple after searching their home in 2006 and watched Qin dump shredded documents in a grocery store Dumpster.
"Is that the conduct of innocent people?" she asked.
Corken said the technology was worth at least $40 million, the price that other automakers had legitimately paid GM to get it.
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