A former Ford employee has been charged with stealing company secrets and attempting to sell them to Chinese automakers.

A former Ford employee has been charged with stealing company secrets and attempting to sell them to Chinese automakers.

The engineer, Xiang Dong Yu (aka Mike Yu), was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport as he returned to the US. While in China, Yu allegedly attempted to sell thousands of pages of Ford's "design documents" and "system design specification documents" to Chinese competitors.

According to the Justice Department, Yu worked for Ford from 1997 to 2007. Shortly before leaving the company, he reportedly copied nearly 4,000 documents onto an external hard drive. In 2008, Yu attempted to give the data to the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp in return for a job. When that failed, he accepted a job at the Beijing Automotive Corp (it's unclear if any Ford data was given to BAC).

Yu now faces five counts of theft of trade secrets, attempted theft of trade secrets and unauthorized access to a protected computer.  Yu could receive between 5 and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge.

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