Six Houston men charged in international scheme to steal trade secrets for China

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Feds say company based in China set up operation in Houston to steal information

Updated 3:11 pm, Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Seven men – including six from the Houston area, have been charged in a conspiracy to steal high-tech trade secrets from an multinational engineering firm in Houston and share the information with a Chinese company.

The marine technology company targeted, which is unnamed in court filings, made a high-performance, naval-grade foam that is used for military and civilian use in oil exploration, aerospeace, underwater vehicles such as submarines and for stealth technology.

The string of arrests came the same day FBI and other federal authorities raided a $1.6 million home in the ritzy Hedwig Village area. 

Among the arrests Tuesday were three people in the Houston area,  two in Washington, D.C. and one in Massachusetts. One Chinese national – an employee of the Chinese manufacturing firm – was also charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets.

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The case will be prosecuted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. A civil forfeiture complaint was also filed in Washington, D.C. for properties officials say were used for or connected to illegal conduct.

Those arrested and charged include four U.S. citizens: Uka Kalu Uche, 35, of Spring; Samuel Abotar Ogoe, 74, of Missouri City; and Johnny Wade Randall, 48, of Conroe; and Shan Shi, 52, who is listed in county records as one of the owners of the Hedwig Village home. Also charged Houston residents, Kui Bo, 40, a Canadian citizen, and Gang Liu, 31, a Chinese national with permanent resident status.

Hui Huang, 32, who lives in China and works for the Chinese manufacturing firm identified in the case, is also charged.

The Chinese manufacturer intended to sell syntactic foam to both military and civilian, state-owned enterprises in China – part of a push toward meeting China’s national goals of developing its marine engineering industry, according to federal officials.

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The investigation and arrests were announced by Dana J. Boente, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security along with officials from the U.S. Attorney for District of Columbia, the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, the U.S. Department of Commerce‘s Bureau of Industry and Security  Office of Export Enforcement, and the Internal Revenue Service‘s Criminal Investigation unit.

According to court documents, the manufacturer charged with attempting to steal trade secrets was the only shareholder for the company that had been incorporated in Houston. From 2012 to 2017, the Chinese manufacturer and the employees of its Houston-based company engaged in a systematic campaign to steal the trade secrets of a global engineering firm that is considered a leader in marine technology, according to the documents.

The defendants were attempting to gather information about a technical product called syntactic foam, a strong, light material that can be tailored for commercial and military uses.

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