Chinese businessman pleads guilty to theft of trade secrets

In May, 2015, federal prosecutors arrested Xiwen Huang, and charged him with corporate espionage. At the time, media reported:

Huang worked for a company in New Jersey and later a company in Charlotte that he stole trade secret information from, according to court documents.

Huang worked on “catalyst” technology for energy technology companies, investigators said.

Prosecutors unveiled Friday that the FBI investigation began when the Charlotte company began hearing rumors that Huang was working against the company’s venture in China.

Earlier this week, a criminal bill of information was filed in the case in Charlotte, N.C. A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina summarized the history. Here’s part of it:

According to court documents filed today, from about 2006 through May 2015, Huang engaged in a scheme to steal trade secrets from multiple companies within the United States, and intellectual property from the United States government, to further his aspirations of forming and operating his own company in the People’s Republic of China (China). Huang is a native of China and naturalized U.S. Citizen.

Filed court documents show that prior to coming to the United States to obtain his doctorate degree in Chemical Engineering, Huang wrote that he “had a dream of learning more advanced technology to serve [his] homeland” of China and decided that to “fulfill [his] wish” he needed to go abroad and then “return to China with [his] newly acquired methodology and research skills to teach in China.”

According to court records, Huang came to the United States in 1998 to study and work. From approximately December 2004 until he was fired by his employer in approximately March 2014, court records show that Huang stole proprietary and confidential information, including trade secret information and other intellectual property belonging to a Government Research Facility and two United States companies, with the intent to use the stolen information for the economic benefit of himself, a Chinese company, and others.

Filed court documents show that Huang stole a large amount of intellectual property from the Government Research Facility, including technology related to military vehicle fuel cells. Court records also show that Huang stole from one U.S. company more than 500 documents containing confidential and proprietary information, including trade secret information related to 30 different products with research and development costs associated therewith of more than $65 million. According to court records, Huang stole from a second U.S. company, more than 100 documents containing trade secret, confidential and proprietary information with research and development costs associated therewith of more than $25 million.

Court documents filed today show that upon being fired from the second U.S. company in 2014, Huang returned to China and began working for a Chinese company in a managerial role. According to court records, Huang took with him to China all of the intellectual property and trade secrets he stole with the intent to use that stolen property to further his personal goals and the business interests of the Chinese company.

On Friday, Huang pleaded  guilty  to one count of stealing trade secrets.

Although the government press releases do not name any of Huang’s employers, Huang’s LinkedIn profile indicates that he worked for CoaLogix in the Charlotte area from February 2012 – March 2014 as a Catalyst Technology Manager. Prior to that, he reports he worked for BASF in New Jersey from 2008 – 2012 as a Staff Engineer, and at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory  – 

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