GM Trade Secrets to China
On Apr. 20, 2013, in the Eastern District of Michigan, a former General Motors engineer, Shanshan Du, was sentenced to 12 months and one day along with a $12,500 fine. Her husband, Yu Qin, was sentenced to 36 months on each count to be served concurrently along with a $25,000 fine. Both defendants were found guilty by a federal jury on Nov. 30, 2012, for conspiring to steal hybrid technology trade secrets from GM with the intent to use them in a joint venture with an automotive competitor in China. Du and Qin were also convicted of unlawful possession of trade secrets after a month-long trial Nov. 2012. Qin was also convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice. The evidence at trial showed that from Dec. 2003 through May 2006, the defendants conspired to steal GM’s trade secret information. Du, while employed with GM’s hybrid vehicle technology group, provided GM trade secret information relating to hybrid vehicles to her husband, Qin, for the benefit of their private company, Millennium Technology International Inc. (MTI), which the defendants jointly owned and operated. Approximately five days after Du was offered a severance agreement by GM in Jan. 2005, she copied more than 16,000 GM files, including trade secret documents, to an external computer hard drive used for MTI business. A few months later, Qin moved forward on a business venture to provide hybrid vehicle technology to Chery Automobile, an automotive manufacturer based in China and a competitor of GM. In May 2006, during the execution of a search warrant, the FBI recovered multiple computer devices containing GM trade secret information on several computer and electronic devices located in the defendants’ residence. Shortly after the FBI search team left the defendants’ residence, the defendants drove to a dumpster behind a grocery store, where defendant Qin discarded plastic bags containing shredded documents, including GM trade secret information, that were responsive to federal grand jury subpoenas seeking information relating to MTI and hybrid vehicles. Based on preliminary calculations, GM estimates that the value of the stolen GM documents is more than $40 million. This case was investigated by the FBI.