Businessman charged with intent to steal General Electric’s secret silicon technology

Trade secrets worth millions on the market were the goal of the conspiracy.

A Chinese businessman has been charged with intent to steal General Electric's (GE) processor technology. 

On Friday, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said that Chi Lung Winsman Ng, a 64-year-old resident of Hong Kong, allegedly plotted to steal MOSFET intellectual property with the overall goal of developing a business -- and rival -- based on GE's technology. 

According to the DoJ indictment, between roughly March 2017 and January 2018, Ng teamed up with a co-conspirator, a former GE engineer, to hash out a plan to steal the company's proprietary data. 

General Electric's silicon carbide metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) are semiconductor designs that the company has been working on for more than a decade. GE's chips are used in a variety of products and have landed the firm contracts in both the automotive and military space. 

Assistant Attorney General John Demers of the DoJ's National Security Division said that Ng and co-conspirators "chose to steal what they lacked the time, talent or money to create."

The DoJ claims that the pair went so far as to create PowerPoint presentations to impress investors with their start-up's business plan and told interested parties that the new company could be profitable within three years. 

Ng and the engineer allegedly claimed that the start-up owned assets worth $100 million -- including intellectual property -- and sought to secure $30 million in funding. At least one meeting took place with a Chinese investor, according to US prosecutors. 

"We have no evidence that there was an illegal MOSFET technology transfer to any Chinese companies, including the company that Ng and his co-conspirator were trying to start," the DoJ added. 

Ng has been charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets. If arrested and found guilty, the businessman would face up to 10 years behind bars and punitive damages of up to $250,000. 

"According to the indictment, Mr. Ng conspired to steal valuable and sensitive technology from GE and produce it in China," commented Special Agent in Charge Thomas Relford of the FBI's Albany Field Office. "Our office, the US Attorney's Office, and GE coordinated closely and worked quickly to prevent that theft and the resulting damage to our economic security."

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