Federal authorities in Detroit charged a Michigan couple Thursday with stealing information about hybrid vehicle technology from General Motors and attempting to put it to use for a Chinese car company.
Yu Chin and his wife Sanshan Du of Troy, Mich., have been charged with, among other things, unauthorized possession of trade secrets and wire fraud.
According to the charges, from December 2003 to May 2006 Du conspired to obtain trade secrets about the automaker's hybrid vehicle technologies and passed that information to her husband who used it for the couple's own company, Millennium Technology International (MTI).
In January, 2005 GM offered Du, then a GM employee, a severance package. About five days later, she copied thousands of GM documents to a computer hard drive used for MTI business, authorities allege.
MTI later entered into a business venture to provide hybrid technology to the Chinese automaker Chery Automobile, a company that is a competitor of GM's in China.
In May 2006, the couple drove to a dumpster behind a grocery store where they discarded bags of shredded documents related to the case, authorities charge.
GM estimates the stolen information to be worth about $40 million, according to an announcement from U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
"We cooperated with the U.S. attorney's office in developing the case and will continue to cooperate with them as appropriate," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said.
A Chery Automobile spokesperson was not immediately available for comment