A Chinese national engineer who stole confidential trade secrets from Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE:EW) and ev3, formerly owned by Covidien and now a subsidiary of Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison, according to a posting from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Wenfeng Lu, 46, pleaded guilty last May to six counts of unauthorized possession and attempted possession of trade secrets. Lu admitted that he stole secrets from the Irvine, Calif.-based labs of both Edwards and ev3 while he worked there from January 2009 until his arrest in 2012, according to the report.
Lu was initially employed by ev3 and later moved to Edwards. At both companies, Lu copied multiple documents with technical information and trade secrets and put them on his personal laptop at home.
During his time under both ev3 and Edwards employment, Lu traveled to the People’s Republic of China multiple times, at times directly after he stole secrets from the medtech firms, according to the report.
In addition to the thefts, Lu was preparing to launch a company to manufacture devices using technology stolen from his employers, according to the report.
“In furtherance of his business, defendant [Lu] applied to the PRC government for funding designed to attract technological talent from places such as the United States, and was selected to receive approximately $2 million RMB (about $328,000 USD) and free rent for a period of three years in a laboratory in a technology park located in Nanjing Province in the PRC. The money and laboratory space was part of a program sponsored by the PRC government to encourage scientists of Chinese descent to return to the PRC with intellectual property to develop biomedical technology in the PRC,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court, according to the AG report.
Lu was arrested in November 2012 as he was preparing to board a plane to the PRC.