12 May 2022
The US Justice Department said in a statement that a woman in the US state of Michigan was sentenced to 14 years in prison for a scheme to steal trade secrets, engage in economic espionage, and commit fraud.
The defendant Xiaorong You, 59, of Lansing, Michigan, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and fined USD 200,000.
According to court documents, You stole valuable trade secrets related to formulations for bisphenol-A-free (BPA-free) coatings for the inside of beverage cans.
While working at The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta and Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tennessee, she was given access to trade secrets.
The stolen trade secrets belonged to major chemical and coating companies such as Akzo-Nobel, BASF, Dow Chemical, PPG, Toyochem, Sherwin Williams, and Eastman Chemical Company and were developed at nearly USD 120 million.
You stole trade secrets in order to start a new BPA-free coating company in China.
You and her Chinese corporate partner, Weihai Jinhong Group, received millions of dollars in Chinese government grants to support the new company.
“As the evidence at trial showed, the defendant stole valuable trade secrets and intended to use them to benefit not only a foreign company but also the government of China,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
“Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of this offense, as well as the Department of Justice’s commitment to protect our nation’s security by investigating and prosecuting those who steal U.S. companies’ intellectual property.”