14 years in prison for an engineer in a trade secrets case in China

A chemical engineer has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for what prosecutors say was a scheme to steal trade secrets about materials used in soda cans and other beverages for the benefit of the Chinese government and a Chinese company.

According to the US Department of Justice, Xiaorong “Shannon” You, 59, of Lansing, Michigan, was sentenced by a federal judge in Greeneville, Tennessee on Monday after a jury found her guilty last month of charges that include possession of stolen trade secrets and economic espionage.

Prosecutors say you accessed secrets about BPA-free inner liners on beverage cans while working at Coca-Cola in Atlanta and Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tennessee. They say the trade secrets have cost major chemical and coatings companies nearly $120 million to develop.

Prosecutors say You stole trade secrets to establish a BPA-free coating business in China, and its Chinese partner, Weihai Jinhong Group, received millions of dollars in Chinese government grants to support the new venture.

Prosecutors pointed to evidence at trial to say that you also intended to benefit the governments of China, China’s Shandong Province, China’s Weihai City, and the Chinese Communist Party.

You worked at Coca-Cola as a senior engineer for global research from December 2012 to August 2017 and was responsible for packaging application development at Eastman Chemical from September 2017 to June 2018, prosecutors said.

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