by Pete Williams | NBCNEWS.com
The theft of trade secrets from Micron, the Idaho-based company, was worth $9 billion, according to the feds.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department revealed Thursday that a federal grand jury has charged companies in China and Taiwan with a scheme to steal trade secrets from Micron, the Idaho-based firm that controls up to a quarter of the random access memory industry.
Federal prosecutors said one of the defendants served as president of a company acquired by Micron five years ago. The charges said he went to work for the Taiwan company, United Microelectronics Corporation, and orchestrated the theft of trade secrets from Micron worth nearly $9 billion.
That company, the charges said, then partnered with a Chinese state-owned business, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company, so that China could steal the technology from the United States. The random-access technology involved was not possessed by the Chinese until very recently, the Justice Department said.
This week, the Commerce Department took action to block the Chinese company from buying goods and services in the United States, to keep it from profiting from the technology it stole. And the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit, seeking a court order that would block the Chinese and Taiwan companies from transferring the stolen technology or exporting products to the US based on it.
“We are not just reacting to crimes. We are acting to block the defendants from doing any more harm to Micron,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in announcing the charges.
Sessions said he was setting up a task force in the Justice Department to devote more resources to fighting Chinese economic espionage.
“It is time for China to join the community of lawful nations. International trade has been good for China, but the cheating must stop,” he said.