Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Former Apple engineer accused of stealing technology and transferring it to China


The US Justice Department has accused Apple Inc of stealing trade secrets, including information about self-driving car technology, in one of five cases related to attempts to steal the technology and transfer it to China, Russia and Iran.

The cases, described by the Justice Department at a news conference, centered on allegations of theft of trade secrets and other technologies. According to Reuters, the two cases involved what U.S. officials described as “procurement networks” set up to help Russia’s military and intelligence agencies acquire critical technology.

“We are eager to enforce US laws to prevent the flow of sensitive technologies to our foreign adversaries,” Matt Olsen, the Justice Department’s national security chief, told reporters. “We are committed to doing everything we can to prevent these advanced tools from falling into the hands of foreign adversaries.”

The indictment, which was issued in April against the former Apple engineer and unsealed on Tuesday, alleges the 35-year-old engineer, identified by authorities as Weibao Wang, lived in Mountain View, California, and was hired by Apple in 2016.

In 2017, the Chinese engineer accepted a job in the U.S. with a Chinese company that makes self-driving cars before resigning from Apple, but he allegedly waited about four months to inform the company of his new job.

After his last day at Apple, the Justice Department said the company discovered he had accessed a large amount of data in the days leading up to his departure.

Federal agents searched his home in June 2018 to find a “large amount” of data from Apple. The ministry added that he boarded a flight to China shortly after the search for him.

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If convicted, the Chinese engineer faces up to 10 years in prison and fines for each of the six charges against him.

Apple declined to comment on the case.

Another Chinese national (Xiang Jiangqiao) was charged in a separate case with participating in a scheme to supply Iran with materials used in the production of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles through an authorized Chinese company.

According to Reuters, US prosecutors announced charges that Liming Li, 64, stole trade secrets from his employers in California to build his rival company in China.

New York prosecutors allege that Nikolaos Pogonikolos, 49, of Greece smuggled US-origin military technology to Russia while working as a defense contractor with NATO.

Prosecutors in the state of Arizona accused two Russians, Oleg Sergeevich Batsulia and Vasily Sergeevich Besedin, of using their Florida company to ship aircraft parts to Russian airlines.

U.S. officials said Qiao and Wang remain at large in China, and four other suspects have been arrested.

The announced lawsuits are part of a series of lawsuits filed Tuesday by five separate U.S. law firms for crimes including export violations, smuggling and theft of trade secrets.Financial Times“.

“These indictments demonstrate the Justice Department’s commitment to preventing critical technology from falling into the hands of foreign adversaries, including Russia, China and Iran,” Matthew Olson, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the Financial Times reported that companies linked to Chernya, an illegal procurement network operating on behalf of Russia’s intelligence services, continued to buy “goods and materials” from within the European Union last year despite being subject to US sanctions. .

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According to the United States, the network works on behalf of Russia’s FSB spy agency, including the Scientific and Technological Intelligence Directorate known as “Directorate D,” to procure sanctioned technology, according to the same source.

Other clients of the network include the Kremlin’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, a state-owned defense conglomerate, and the Russian Defense Ministry, along with the state nuclear agency responsible for the country’s nuclear arsenal.

“We have intensified our investigations and prosecutions of export control violations in light of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” said Brian Pace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, who prosecuted the case against the Greek defendant.

Rolf Colon
Rolf Colon
"Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert."

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