US charges United Microelectronics exec Chen Zhengkun with tech theft

World | 2 Nov 2018 1:08 pm

An individual charged by the US Justice Department Thursday had been general manager and chairman of a company that Idaho-based Micron Technology Inc acquired in 2013 and then went to work two years later for the Taiwan semiconductor company, United Microelectronics Corporation, or UMC, where prosecutors say he orchestrated the theft.

That man, identified by prosecutors as Chen Zhengkun, recruited both of his co-defendants to join him at UMC. One, according to US prosecutors, downloaded more than 900 confidential and proprietary Micron files before he left and stored them in personal cloud storage and on external hard drives so that he could access them at his new job with UMC.

The company partnered with a Chinese-controlled business, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co., to mass-produce technology memory storage products used in computer electronics.

That technology, known as dynamic random-access memory, is something that the Chinese government had identified as an important priority because its own companies could not develop such advanced capabilities and had to rely on companies outside of China, the Justice Department said

The indictment was announced one day after the Trump administration imposed restrictions on technology exports to the Chinese company that was charged, citing national security concerns. Beijing has spent heavily to build up Jinhua and other chipmakers as part of efforts to transform China into a global leader in robotics, artificial intelligence and other technology industries.-AP

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