A Chinese scientist pleaded guilty on Tuesday to stealing next-generation battery technology from the American petroleum company where he worked, the Department of Justice said.
Hongjin Tan, 35, a Chinese national who was a permanent legal resident of the United States, was arrested in December 2018 and charged with stealing trade secrets.
The Justice Department said Tan pleaded guilty in US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma to theft of a trade secret, unauthorized transmission of a trade secret, and unauthorized possession of a trade secret.
The market value of the next-generation battery technology Tan was accused of stealing was more than $1 billion, it said.
“Tan’s guilty plea continues to fill in the picture of China’s theft of American intellectual property,” assistant attorney general for national security John Demers said in a statement.
US Attorney Trent Shores said “industrial spies like Hongjin Tan engage in espionage to steal American trade secrets and intellectual property.
“China’s economic aggression poses a threat to America’s emerging high-technology industries,” Shores said.
Tan worked as an associate scientist for the US petroleum company from June 2017 until his arrest, the Justice Department said.