BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (KFOR) – A Chinese national, who is a legal US resident in Oklahoma, has been sentenced after stealing trade secrets from a research center in Bartlesville.
In November, Hongjin Tan pleaded guilty to theft of a trade secret, unauthorized transmission of a trade secret, and unauthorized possession of a trade secret.
Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma say Tan stole $1 billion worth of trade secrets from Phillips 66 Research and Technology Center in Bartlesville.
Investigators say the information involved the manufacturing of a “research and development downstream energy market product.”
Tan was employed as an associate scientist and was developing next-generation battery technologies for stationary energy storage.
“China’s economic aggression poses a threat to America’s emerging high-technology industries. Industrial spies like Hongjin Tan engage in espionage to steal American trade secrets and intellectual property born out of the innovation that is innate in our free market system,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores for the Northern District of Oklahoma. “Thanks to a vigilant company and the investigative efforts of the FBI, Hongjin Tan was caught red-handed and prosecuted. American ingenuity and know-how are the envy of the international market, and the U.S. Attorneys community will work to protect our economic infrastructure.”
In his plea agreement, Tan admitted to intentionally copying and downloading research and development materials without authorization.
This week, Tan was sentenced in a Tulsa court to two years in prison and will be required to pay $150,000 in restitution to his former employer.