"Hongjin Tan, a 35 year old Chinese national and US legal permanent resident, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to committing theft of trade secrets from his employer, a US petroleum company", the release said on Tuesday. "Tan pleaded guilty to theft of a trade secret, unauthorised transmission of a trade secret, and unauthorised possession of a trade secret".
The Justice Department said the stolen information concerned the manufacture of a "research and development downstream energy market product" that is worth more than $1 billion.
Chinese National Pleads Guilty to Committing Theft of Trade Secrets https://t.co/lb5oI81wGw— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) November 12, 2019
Tan, who worked for the US petroleum company from June 2017 until his arrest in December 2018, admitted to intentionally copying and downloading research and development materials without his employer's authorisation, the Justice Department said.
"The defendant was assigned to work within a group at the company with the goal of developing next generation battery technologies for stationary energy storage, specifically flow batteries", the release said.
FBI's investigators searched Tan's premises and found five missing files from a thumb drive that had been downloaded to a hard drive.
"Tan maintained the files on a hard drive so he could access the data at a later date", the release said. "Further accessing the material would have been financially advantageous for Tan but caused significant financial damage to his Oklahoma employer", the release said.
The sentencing hearing in the case against Tan is scheduled for 12 February, according to the release.