By Allan Lengel
Back in the day, Ford ran a commercial that said: “Ford Has a Better Idea”. Chinese National Xiang Dong Yu figured that was still the case.
The former product engineer for the Ford Motor Co. was indicted in the Motor City on charges that he stole trade secrets from the automaker just before he took a job in the China branch of a U.S. company.
Turns out Ford may have had a better idea, but Xiang Dong Yu didn’t.
Xiang Dong Yu,47, of Beijing, China, was arrested Wednesday at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport after deplaning from China, authorities announced.
He is charged with theft of trade secrets, attempted theft of trade secrets and unauthorized access to a protected computer.
U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg, in a press release, said Yu was a product engineer for the Ford Motor Co. from 1997 to 2007 and had access to Ford trade secrets, including Ford design documents.
Authorities said Yu accepted a job at the China branch of a U.S. company in December 2006.
“The indictment alleges that on the eve of his departure from Ford and before he told Ford of his new job, Yu copied 4,000 Ford documents onto an external hard drive, including sensitive Ford design documents,” authorities said. “Included in those documents were system design specifications for an engine/transmission mounting subsystem, electrical distribution system, electric power supply, electrical subsystem and generic body module, among others.
Authorities also alleged that Yu took Ford design documents to China in July 2005 as part of his effort to land a job with a Chinese automotive company.
On top of that, authorities said Yu used stolen Ford documents to try and get a job with a Chinese automotive company in 2008.
“Michigan, as well as the rest of hte United States, is significantly impacted by the auto industry,” Andy Arena, special agent in charge of the Detroit FBI said in a statement. ” Theft of trade secrets is a threat to national security and investigating allegations involving theft of trade secrets is a priority for the FBI.”