Couple convicted of stealing GM trade secrets (Update)

Nov 30, 2012 by Ed White

(AP)—A former General Motors engineer with access to the automaker's hybrid technology was convicted 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, 54, and Yu Qin, 51, 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, as did their attorneys.

Du faces up to 10 years in prison, while her husband faces up to 30. No sentencing date has been set.

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 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 paid GM to get it.

Du and Qin, both U.S. citizens, had been under scrutiny for years after GM accused them of theft. They were charged in 2006 with destroying documents sought by investigators, but that case was dropped while investigators pursued a broader probe that led to an indictment in 2010.

It's not the first trade secrets prosecution in the Detroit auto industry. In 2011, an engineer who stole information from Ford Motor Co. was sentenced to nearly six years in prison.

Xiang Dong Yu, also known as Mike Yu, admitted copying thousands of documents with details on engine transmission systems and electrical power supply before leaving Ford to work for a Chinese competitor in 2008.

"We are committed to protecting Michigan's technology, and we hope that this prosecution will send a message that stealing proprietary information from an employer or competitor is a serious crime," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said.

Explore further: Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Guilty verdict in theft of Motorola secrets for China

Feb 08, 2012

A former software engineer for Motorola was found guilty Wednesday of stealing trade secrets from the US technology firm just before she tried to leave the country for China, the Justice Department said.

Russia firm fined in S. Korea over car copying

Feb 23, 2011

A South Korean court Wednesday fined a Russian carmaker almost $9,000 after one of its employees was jailed for stealing technology secrets from the local unit of General Motors.

General Motors to try selling new cars on eBay

Jul 10, 2009

(AP) -- As part of its turnaround plan, General Motors Corp. said Friday it plans to experiment with auctioning new cars on eBay, expanding on an existing partnership covering certified used vehicles on the online marketplace.

GM may have electric car breakthrough (Update)

Aug 09, 2012

A small battery company backed by General Motors is working on breakthrough technology that could power an electric car 100 (160 kilometers) or even 200 miles (320 kilometers) on a single charge in the next two-to-four years, ...

Recommended for you

US venture investments highest since 2001 (Update)

18 hours ago

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into a growing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.

Weibo IPO below expectations, raises $285.6 mn

Apr 17, 2014

Sina Weibo sold fewer shares than expected in its US IPO which was priced below expectations ahead of a Thursday listing that takes place after tech selloffs on Wall Street.

User comments : 0

More news stories

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...