A former Apple employee on Monday pled guilty to the theft of trade secrets from the tech firm.
The material stolen by Xiaolang Zhang was associated with Apples work on its first-ever automobile, a project thats experienced and from the headlines for a long time though never officially confirmed by the business.
Zhang admitted to the charge at a court in San Jose, California, on Monday, and for his crime faces around 10 years in jail and fines totaling around $250,000, in accordance with CNBC.
The story of Zhangs involvement with Apple dates back years. He was initially hired by the tech giant toward the finish of 2015 to focus on Apples car project referred to as Project Titan within a team development software and hardware for the self-driving vehicle.
3 years after joining, permanent U.S. resident Zhang quit Apple for XMotors, a Silicon Valley-based Chinese startup centered on creating autonomous-car technology.
Round the time of his departure from Apple, the business reportedly noticed Zhang behaving within an unusual manner, conduct that prompted it to launch an interior investigation into its former employee to see if anything was amiss. After examining Zhangs MacBook and work-issued iPhones he was asked to show in, the investigating team attained the fact that Zhang had likely walked off with confidential data associated with Project Titan.
The former Apple employee stood accused of downloading a variety of material that included a 25-page document containing engineering schematics of a circuit board for an autonomous vehicle, and data associated with prototypes of Apples car.
Zhangs was eventually arrested in July 2018 when federal agents charged him with theft of trade secrets owned by Apple. After pleading not liable in 2018, Zhang this week changed tack and admitted to the charge within a plea agreement that’s currently under seal.
Hes scheduled to be sentenced on November 14.
While a significant crime, corrupt employees passing on trade secrets is nothing new. However, Apples visible, famously secretive nature, and ongoing reluctance to officially confirm the existence of arguably its most ambitious project up to now, made the story of Zhangs unscrupulous actions even more intriguing, and contains without doubt prompted Apple to examine its processes in a bid to avoid similar crimes from happening later on.
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