A Chinese engineer has been accused of stealing secrets from a sneaky Apple automotive vehicle project, a recently revealed criminal complaint.
Jizhong Chen was arrested in January, the day before he was hired on a flight to China where he had applied for a job at an autonomous car company, according to the criminal complaint filed this week in the US court in California .
The charge of stealing trade secrets against Chen has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $ 250,000.
Chen, an electrical engineer, was hired by Apple in June last year to join a hardware design team working on a standalone Apple car project, said FBI special agent Adelaida Hernandez.
Chen received "secret training" on how to prevent information leakage, even for family members, and was one of about 1,200 "core" employees with access to the building where the project was centered, according to the complaint.
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In December, Chen was notified by Apple that his performance at work needed to improve. The following month, a co-worker noticed Chen taking pictures of the stand-alone car project and alerted the superiors, the document said.
An internal investigation determined that Chen had taken photos of the sneaky project and backed up his Apple computer on a personal machine, along with more than 2,000 files, including diagrams, manuals and diagrams, according to the complaint.
Chen told Apple that he lowered his computer to a personal computer as an "insurance policy" for job prospects if his Apple performance improvement plan ended with his resignation, but some photos date back to June, Hernandez said. in the document.
Chen was suspended from his work as a result of Apple's internal investigation, whose findings were shared with the FBI.
In July last year, a former Apple engineer was accused of stealing secrets from the stand-alone car technology project, days before he resigned to go to a Chinese startup.
Xiaolang Zhang has been charged with stealing trade secrets from the Apple project, according to a copy of the online criminal complaint.
The two cases did not seem related, according to Hernandez's filing. Apple said last week it was reducing its stand-alone car team but remained committed to the technology.