Sun, Dec 23, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Chinese man charged with trade secrets theft in US

AP, TULSA, Oklahoma

Federal prosecutors on Friday said that a Chinese national employed by an Oklahoma oil company has been charged with stealing trade secrets.

Hongjin Tan, 35, is accused of stealing trade secrets from his unnamed US-based employer that operates a research facility in the Tulsa area, authorities said.

An affidavit filed by the FBI alleged that Tan stole trade secrets about an unidentified product worth between US$1.4 billion and US$1.8 billion to his employer to benefit a Chinese company where Tan had been offered work.

Tan allegedly downloaded hundreds of computer files, including research reports, regarding the manufacture of a “research and development downstream energy market product,” authorities said.

The reports described not only how to make the product, which the company has said “is a complicated and technically difficult process,” but also the company’s plans to market the product in China and in cellphone and lithium-based battery systems, the affidavit said.

“These files included information that [the company] considers to be trade secrets and outside the scope of Tan’s employment,” the affidavit said.

A LinkedIn profile lists a Hongjin Tan whose background matches descriptions in the affidavit and states he was a staff scientist at the Phillips 66 Research Center in Bartlesville, about 66km north of Tulsa.

A spokeswoman for Phillips 66, Melissa Ory, said in an e-mail that the Houston, Texas-based company “is cooperating with the FBI on an ongoing investigation involving a former employee at our Bartlesville location.”

Ory declined to discuss additional details.

Court records show Tan made an initial appearance before a federal magistrate on Thursday and remains in custody.

A preliminary and detention hearing for Tan was scheduled for next week.

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