A Chinese scientist was sentenced to two years in prison on Thursday for stealing next-generation battery technology from the American oil company where he worked.
Hongjin Tan, 36, a permanent Chinese legal resident of the United States, was arrested in December 2018 and pleaded guilty to stealing business secrets in November last year.
Northern District of Oklahoma District Court judge Gregory Frizzell sentenced Tan to 24 months in prison and told him to pay his former employer $ 150,000 in restitution.
The Justice Department said in a statement, the market value of next-generation battery technology that Tan was accused of stealing was more than $ 1 billion.
"This investigation and law enforcement exposed another case of China's ongoing attempts to steal American intellectual property," said Attorney General John Demers.
FBI special agent Melissa Godbold said: "American companies are investing heavily in advanced research and cutting-edge technology.
"Theft of business secrets adversely affects our national security and market economy," said Godbold. "It takes companies profits and jobs from hard-working Americans."
Tan worked as an associate scientist for the U.S. oil company from June 2017 until his arrest, the Department of Justice said.
The department didn't name the company, but a Hongjin Tan LinkedIn page identified him as a member of the disruptive technology team at Phillips 66, Oklahoma.
Previously, he worked as a research assistant and visiting scientist at the California Institute of Technology, where he received his doctorate.
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