Chinese national found guilty of trade espionage

A close up shot of a pair of handcuffs on a table.

A U.S. District Court judge in San Jose has found a 41-year-old man guilty of economic espionage, theft of trade secrets and conspiracy.

Hao Zhang, 41, of China, was found guilty by U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila of the Northern District of California.

"The defendant plotted with Tianjin University to take trade secrets from two U.S. companies, including his own employer, to China for the benefit of the Chinese Government," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. "Today's guilty verdict on all counts is an important step in holding accountable an individual who robbed his U.S. employer of trade secrets and sought to replicate the company's technology and replace its market share.  The Department of Justice's commitment to prosecuting these cases should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone considering doing the same.   

"Economic Espionage is a pervasive threat throughout the United States, particularly to the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, which is the center of innovation and technology," said John F. Bennett, FBI Special Agent in Charge.  "While this case exemplifies how easily a few motivated employees can conspire to misappropriate intellectual property for the benefit of the People's Republic of China, Zhang's conviction should serve as a warning to our adversaries that the FBI and our partners remain committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting these crimes."

Evidence submitted during the course of the trial demonstrated that from 2010 to 2015, Zhang conspired to and did steal trade secrets from two companies: Avago, a designer, developer, and global supplier of a broad range of analog, digital, mixed signal and optoelectronics components and subsystems with a focus in semiconductor design and processing, headquartered in San Jose and Singapore; and Skyworks, an innovator of high performance analog semiconductors headquartered in Woburn, Massachusetts.  

Judge Davila found that Zhang intended to steal the trade secrets for the benefit of the People's Republic of China.

Zhang is currently released on a $500,000 secured bond. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 31, before Davila. The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1831 is 15 years in custody and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate. The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1832 is 10 years in custody and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate.