General Electric Company (GE) received a rude shock after one of its employees was arrested for stealing confidential information. Chinese-American engineer Xiaoqing Zheng was charged by the FBI with the theft of files containing proprietary turbine technology, which he sent to his personal email id after hiding them inside a seemingly-harmless picture of a sunset.
Zheng is the owner of a technology firm in China and he has affiliations with several other Chinese companies. Apart from the theft through email, he is also believed to have downloaded a large number of files onto an external storage device. Zheng, who was released on bail, faces up to ten years in prison.
The proprietary technologies in question are believed to hold considerable economic value to GE’s competitors if anyone should gain access to them. The FBI is probing if there are any other instances of intellectual property theft at GE.
The proprietary technologies are believed to hold considerable economic value
This incident comes at a time when tensions between the US and China are simmering rapidly. Apart from the trade issues between both countries, the Trump administration has blamed China for theft and forceful transfer of intellectual properties from US technology companies.
GE reported a 30% decline in profits for its most recent quarter and the company is undergoing a broad restructuring process. Several of GE’s businesses are being offloaded with the company disclosing plans to sell its parts of its digital unit GE Digital earlier this week.
GE’s stock has dropped 24% so far this year. Shares were down 0.3% as of 1:30 pm ET.
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