Lansing chemist convicted of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, and wire fraud

As witnesses testified at trial, developing “BPA” alternatives was expensive and time consuming.
Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 4:08 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A PH.D. Chemist from Lansing, Dr. Xiaorong You, also known as Shannon You, 59, has been convicted of stealing valuable trade secrets with the intention of starting a company in China.

After a twelve-day trial, Dr. You was convicted of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to steal trade secrets, possession of stolen trade secrets, economic espionage, and wire fraud.

During the trial it was revealed that Dr. You stole trade secrets related to formulations for bisphenol-A-free (BPA-free) coatings for the inside of beverage cans. Evidence demonstrated at the trial showed that Dr. You stole these trade secrets for the purpose of establishing a global can-coating manufacturer in China with a Chinese chemical company called the Weihai Jinhong Group.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) was used to coat the inside of cans and other food and beverage containers to maintain flavor and prevent the container from corroding or reacting with the food or beverage it contains. However, BPA may have health risks, so companies began searching for BPA-free alternatives.

As witnesses from the chemical and coating companies testified at trial, developing these alternatives was both expensive and time consuming.

Dr. You was granted access to the BPS-free trade secrets while working at the Coca-Cola company in Atlanta, Georgia, and Eastman Chemical company in Kingsport, Tennessee. The stolen trade secrets belonged to major chemical and coating companies including Akzo-Nobel, BASF, Dow Chemical, PPG, Toyochem, Sherwin Williams, and Eastman Chemical company, and cost nearly $120,000,000 to develop. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Dr. You stole the trade secrets to set up a new BPA-free coating company in China.

Sentencing has been set for November 1, 2021 at 10:30 a.m., before the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville.

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