(KRON) — A former Apple Incorporated employee was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly stealing and sharing trade secrets from the technology giant, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
Weibao Wang, 35, was charged with theft and attempted theft of trade secrets in connection to activities dating back to 2016. Apple hired Wang in March of 2016 as a software engineer, according to the indictment. Apple trained Wang on company expectations in regards to secrecy when handling confidential materials, and the company also established rules which prohibited sharing that information.
Wang worked for a team that developed and designed autonomous systems for various applications, which can include self-driving cars. By Nov. 2017, Wang accepted a full-time role as a Staff Engineer with a U.S.-based subsidiary of a company that was headquartered in the People’s Republic of China.
Wang didn’t inform his managers at Apple that he was accepting the new role for four months, the indictment alleges. When Wang completed his last day of work at Apple, representatives at the company reviewed access logs which showed what information Wang had accessed that day.
The administrators determined that Wang had accessed “large amounts of sensitive proprietary and confidential information in the days leading up to his departure from Apple,” the DOJ says.
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When law enforcement searched Wang’s Mountain View residence in June of 2018, they found large quantities of data that had been taken from Apple before he left the company. Wang told officials during the search that he would not be traveling.
However, Wang then reportedly bought a one-way ticket from San Francisco to China, and boarded a plane that night. Law enforcement were able to determine that Wang had accessed Apple’s proprietary and confidential information after he had left Apple, when he was employed by a new company.
If Wang is convicted of these crimes, he could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 (or twice the gross gain or loss that resulted from the criminal acts). The case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California after an investigation by the FBI.