A federal U.S. jury convicted this week a man of conspiring to steal trade secrets of material essential for deepwater oil and gas drilling from Houston-based firm Trelleborg Offshore, the U.S. Department of Justice said, in the latest evidence of China trying to obtain U.S. technology, including such for oil and gas drilling.
Shan Shi, 54, of Houston, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets relating to syntactic foam—a strong, lightweight material with commercial and military uses that is essential for deep-sea oil and gas drilling, the Justice Department said.
According to evidence introduced at the nine-day trial, Shi conspired with others to steal trade secrets from Trelleborg Offshore to the benefit of China-based company CBM-Future New Material Science and Technology Co. Ltd. (CBMF), and “for the ultimate benefit of the People’s Republic of China”.
Evidence showed that CBMF sent some US$3.1 million from China to Shi’s company in Houston between 2014 and 2017 to promote Shi’s activity in the United States, the Justice Department added.
“The jury’s verdict makes clear that Shan Shi conspired to steal trade secrets by poaching employees from a U.S. company and enticing them to bring technical data to his company,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in the statement.
“He did this against the backdrop of China’s strategic plan to close the gap between China and United States in buoyancy technology and with the benefit of millions of dollars of funding from China. Like our many other prosecutions implicating China’s economic aggression, this case exemplifies both the threat to American companies and our commitment to confront it.” Related: The Two Most Important Catalysts For Oil
Assistant Director John Brown of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division commented:
“It is no secret that China is determined to achieve superiority in virtually all high-tech areas, and the FBI is equally determined to stop individuals who commit illegal acts to help China achieve its goals.”
The case is the latest in a string of high-profile Chinese thefts of U.S. technology and industrial espionage.
In the energy sector, the Department of Justice charged in December 2018 two Chinese hackers associated with China’s Ministry of State Security with global cyberattacks that aimed to steal intellectual property and confidential business information, including from the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA, and the U.S. Navy.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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