Ex-Coca-Cola Employee Gets 14 Years for Espionage

May 10, 2022
A former engineer for Coca-Cola has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for stealing trade secrets on behalf of her native China.

A former engineer for Coca-Cola has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for stealing trade secrets on behalf of her native China.

Xiaorong “Shannon” Yu, 59, had been convicted in April of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, conspiracy to commit economic espionage, possession of stolen trade secrets, economic espionage and wire fraud. She was charged with stealing secrets relating to alternatives to bisphenol-A, an additive used for plastics that line the inside of food and beverage cans that has been linked to illnesses in laboratory studies.

Prosecutors alleged that You stole trade secrets by, among other things, taking pictures of files and transferring proprietary information to an external hard drive. She then set up a company in China, partially subsidized by the Chinese government, with the ultimate goal of producing BPA alternatives to compete with U.S. companies.

In addition to her prison sentence, Yu was sentenced to three years of supervised release and a $200,000 fine.

Yu was prosecuted under the China Initiative, begun by the U.S. Department of Justice under the Trump administration to fight cyber crime and industrial espionage by China. That program has since been dismantled.

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