Stolen information focused on monoclonal antibodies and its worth was estimated at $2 billion.
Another Chinese national has been linked to the theft of scientific information or technology developments to benefit a Chinese firm or government.
A former GlaxoSmithKline Plc scientist pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiring to steal trade secrets from the British drug manufacturer to benefit a Chinese pharmaceutical company.
Lucy Xi, 44, entered her plea in Philadelphia federal court, becoming the fourth person to admit to wrongdoing in connection with a scheme to misuse GSK’s trade secrets to benefit Renopharma, which received financial support from the Chinese government.
According to the Department of Justice, Xi and her co-defendants (Yu Xue, Tao Li, and Yan Mei) created Renopharma in Nanjing, China, to research and develop anti-cancer drugs. The stolen information was focused on monoclonal antibody treatments.
In reality, though, the company was used as a repository of information stolen from GSK. Renopharma received financial support and subsidies from the government of China. At the time, Lucy Xi (who was married to Yan Mei) and Yu Xue were employed as a scientists at a GSK facility in Upper Merion, PA, which worked on developing biopharmaceutical products. These products typically cost in excess of $1 billion to research and develop.
In January 2015, Lucy Xi sent Yan Mei a GSK document which contained confidential and trade secret data and information. The document provided a summary of GSK research into monoclonal antibodies at that time. In the body of the e-mail, Lucy Xi wrote, “You need to understand it very well. It will help you in your future business [RENOPHARMA].”
Yu Xue, her sister, Tian Xue, and Tao Li have all pleaded guilty for their roles in this conspiracy. Yan Mei is a fugitive who currently resides in China.
The trade secrets funneled to China are worth billions of dollars.
Xue, who has admitted to the charge earlier, faces a $250,000 fine, up to 10 years in jail, and possibly more fines if the court requires that she pay for the value of the trade secrets knowingly leaked, which industry observers estimate to be worth $2 billion.
“When individuals steal valuable trade secrets concerning one of these drugs, it’s a threat both to that firm and beyond. After all, innovation like this propels the U.S. economy. The FBI is committed to enforcing laws that protect the nation’s businesses from such theft. We will not permit American research and development to be scavenged for the benefit of other companies or countries,” commented Jacqueline Maguire, the special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Philadelphia unit.
U.S. District Judge Joel Slomsky will sentence Xi in mid-April.DONATE
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