Fri, Apr 12, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Former HTC official convicted of trade theft

INDUSTRIAL ESPIONAGE:Thomas Chien was convicted of stealing trade secrets for use by a firm he had set up in China in conjunction with the Chengdu City Government

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei District Court yesterday convicted former HTC Corp vice president of product design Thomas Chien (簡志霖) of stealing proprietary technology to sell to China and other charges, and sentenced him to more than eight years in prison.

The judges ruled that Chien had contravened the Trade Secrets Act (營業秘密法) and Securities and Exchange Act (證券交易法), but found him not guilty of money laundering.

He was given an eight-year-and-one-month term.

The money he reportedly made from the thefts, estimated at about NT$6.83 million (US$221,279 at the current exchange rate), was ordered confiscated.

It was the first ruling on the case, so Chien can appeal the verdict.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office launched an investigation in late August 2013 after HTC filed charges against Chien and other executives.

The investigation found that during the time Chien headed HTC’s product design department in Taiwan, he was being bribed to steal HTC’s icon interface design and other proprietary cellphone technology to pass to connections in China.

He was allegedly helping the Chengdu City Government and other municipal governments interested in establishing mobile phone design companies.

Investigators said Chien colluded with five other HTC employees to leak trade secrets.

He took the not-yet public HTC mobile phone interface design to China in June 2013, where he made presentations to Chinese businesses in Beijing, investigators said.

He and his wife also formed a company in Taiwan to recruit HTC designers and engineers to work for the planned firms in China, the investigation found.

Chien and the five others — Wu Chien-hung (吳建宏), a HTC product design section head; Justin Huang (黃國清), senior manager of design and innovation; Huang Hung-yi (黃弘毅), senior manager of design and innovation; Hung Chung-yi (洪琮鎰), manufacturing design department manager; and Chen Shih-tsou (陳枻佐), a low-level employee — were indicted on Dec. 27, 2013, on charges of leaking trade secrets to Chinese businesses and breach of trust.

All except Hung Chung-yi had confessed to breaking the law and the courts should be lenient with them, prosecutors said when they filed their indictment.

Three of HTC’s Taiwanese suppliers were indicted at the same time for helping Chien and the others submit fraudulent expense claims and providing kickbacks.

Prosecutors said Chien, Wu and Justin Huang used forged receipts to submit fraudulent bills and received a total of NT$33.56 million in kickbacks from suppliers.

Taipei prosecutors waited until the Taipei stock market closed on Aug. 30, 2013, to raid Chien’s HTC office and his residence, and found NT$3 million in cash in the home, which they suspected came from kickbacks.

After Chien was place in detention on Aug. 31, investigators searched his Audi sports car and found NT$7.8 million in cash hidden in the vehicle.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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