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Former Ford Engineer – and Chinese Spy – Draws 6-Year Sentence

Case underscores mounting problems with Chinese industrial espionage.

by on Apr.14, 2011

Convicted of spying for the Chinese, former Ford engneer Xiang Dong Yu.

A former Ford engineer will be spending as much as six years behind bars after being convicted of stealing trade secrets with the intent of selling them to the Chinese.

Xiang Dong Yu, arrested in October 2009, will also have to pay a $12,500 fine after pleading guilty to two felony counts in U.S. District Court.

The Ford case underscores growing concerns about Chinese industrial espionage – thought the outcome stands in sharp contrast to the spy scandal that embroiled French automaker Renault and has led to the ousting of five senior executives, including the maker’s chief operating officer.

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The 49-year-old Yu worked at Ford from 1997 through 2007.  According to government prosecutors, he accepted another position with Beijing Automotive Industry Corp., in December 2006. But before notifying Ford – which routinely escorts employees out of the building once they take a competitive job – Yu copied at least 4,000 Ford documents onto an external hard drive.


Renault’s #2 Resigns in Spy Scandal

Pelata, four others ousted but CEO Ghosn survives purge.

by on Apr.12, 2011

Renault COO Patrick Pelata resigns.

Renault’s second-in-command is stepping down, as are four other senior executives implicated in a spy scandal that has shaken up the French automaker – but CEO Carlos Ghosn has apparently been spared in a purge ordered by the maker’s largest shareholder, the French government.

Patrick Pelata will leave his post as Renault’s chief operating officer, though take on a more modest role with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the maker’s partnership with Japan’s second-largest automaker.  CEO Ghosn originally had refused to accept Pelata’s resignation but his second-in-command was forced out after French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said those responsible for a messy spy scandal “must depart.”

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The crisis was kicked off, early this year, when Renault ousted three senior executives involved with its aggressive electric vehicle program.  An anonymous source had claimed they were being paid to leak critical information to the Chinese.  But, after an investigation by French intelligence, it turned out the three executives were themselves victims of an attempted shakedown by members of Renault’s own security department.