A Chinese man who formerly worked at Ford Motor Co has been arrested and charged with stealing trade secrets, including sensitive design documents, from the automaker, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.
Authorities on Wednesday arrested Xiang Dong Yu, a product engineer at Ford from 1997 to early 2007, on charges he attempted to steal Ford trade secrets, stole some documents and used them to try to get work with Chinese automotive companies, the department said.
A federal grand jury in Detroit indicted Yu on five counts in July but it was sealed until he was arrested after arriving in Chicago from China.
Four of the counts each carry a penalty of up to 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine while the fifth count carries up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
We are aware of the situation and we are cooperating with the proper authorities, Ford spokesman Mark Truby said.
The indictment accused Yu of taking certain Ford design documents in 2005 to try to get a new job during a trip to China to meet with representatives of Chinese automotive companies.
In late 2006, Yu succeeded in a his attempt to find a new job with Foxconn, PCE Industry Inc and copied over 4,000 documents to an external hard drive before traveling to China to his new company's manufacturing hub, according to the indictment.
The indictment said that Yu emailed his supervisor from China saying that he would be leaving Ford after he returned to the United States and he began working for Foxconn, PCE Industry Inc in early 2007.
A year later, he tried to use information he took from the U.S. automaker to get a job with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, which competes with Ford, but he failed, the indictment said. He later accepted a position at Beijing Automotive Corp, another Ford competitor, it said.
Yu is accused of copying designs that include Ford's engine and transmission mounting subsystem, front and read side door structure, steering wheel assembly and the instrument panel and console subsystem, among others, according to the indictment.
(Additional reporting by David Bailey in Detroit, editing by Carol Bishopric and Tim Dobbyn)