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Ex-Apple engineer stole self-driving cars trade secrets, feds say

Apple headquarters in Cupertino | Adobe Stock

A former Apple engineer was indicted for theft of trade secrets related to autonomous systems, such as those used in self-driving cars, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Weibao Wang, 35, formerly of Mountain View, was indicted by a federal grand jury, according to Ismail Ramsey, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, and Robert Tripp, the FBI's special agent in charge of the San Francisco field office.

Apple hired Wang as a software engineer in 2016 on a team that designed and developed hardware and software for autonomous systems, Ramsey and Tripp said in a statement.

In 2017, Wang signed a letter accepting employment with the U.S.-based subsidiary of a Chinese company allegedly working to develop self-driving cars.

Prosecutors said Wang waited more than four months after accepting the new employment agreement before informing Apple that he was leaving.

Apple later discovered that Wang accessed large amounts of sensitive information in the days leading up to his departure from Apple in 2018, prosecutors said.

A search of Wang's Mountain View home found large amounts of Apple data. While he told agents during the search that he had no plans to travel, Wang bought a one-way ticket to Guangzhou, China, and boarded a flight that night, authorities said.

If convicted, Wang faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of six counts of theft of trade secrets.

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