6 September 2019Rory O'Neill

Russian and Italian nationals charged with GE trade secrets theft

US prosecutors have charged a Russian, and an Italian national who is a former executive at a General Electric (GE) subsidiary, with stealing trade secrets from the US conglomerate’s aircraft division.

According to the charges, unsealed yesterday, September 5,  Alexander Yuryevich Korshunov and Maurizio Paolo Bianchi used trade secrets owned by GE Aviation to create a technical report for the Russian government.

The charges were originally filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on August 21.

Bianchi was a director at Ohio-based GE Aviation, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric, and responsible for the company’s business in China, Russia and Asia before leaving to form Italian company Aernova.

Korshunov was employed at Aviadvigatel, a subsidiary of Russian state-owned aircraft engine manufacturer United Engine Corporation (UEC), which had hired Aernova as a technical consultant.

Aviadvigatel was listed by the US Department of Commerce in September 2018 for “acting contrary” to US national security and foreign policy interests, while Kornushov had previously served as an official in the Russian foreign ministry, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said.

According to the DoJ, in 2013 the UEC subsidiary hired Aernova to produce a technical report assessing the effectiveness of and suggest improvements to Aviadvigatel’s accessory gearboxes, a key component in jet engine design.

Prosecutors alleged that Bianchi hired three GE Aviation employees to work on producing the report. The GE employees’ contracts for the work with Aernova said that all patent and IP rights resulting from the report would be owned by UEC and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

The technical report, outlining a recommended design for a new gearbox, was based largely off what prosecutors called the “codified and protected design practices” at GE Aviation.

The GE employees met with Kornushov to discuss the report on two occasions at the Paris Air Show in June 2013 and in Milan in 2014, the complaint said.

Bianchi had stipulated to Kornushov that the GE employees could not be “exposed” during the course of their work, the complaint said.

Conspiracy to steal trade secrets is punishable under US law by up to 10 years in prison.

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