April 17th, 2024

China-based Canadian man accused of selling trade secrets of electric vehicle company

By The Canadian Press on March 20, 2024.

The company logo shines off the rear deck of a 2020 Model X at a Tesla dealership in Littleton, Colo., on April 26, 2020. American prosecutors say a Canadian citizen living in China stole trade secrets from a "leading U.S.-based electric vehicle company" to set up a competing battery business. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski

American prosecutors say a Canadian national living in China stole trade secrets from a leading U.S.-based electric vehicle company to set up a competing battery business.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, New York, says Klaus Pflugbeil was arrested March 19 after allegedly transmitting stolen trade secrets to an undercover agent who was posing as a business person.

A complaint filed in Federal Court says Pflugbeil and his co-accused Yilong Shao conspired to sell proprietary technology developed over years by a Canadian firm that specialized in “automated, precision dispensing pumps and filling systems.”

Pflugbeil’s LinkedIn profile says he was a vice-president for Hibar System Ltd. in Canada and China from 1995 to 2009, the same company based in Richmond Hill, Ont., that was later purchased by Tesla in 2019.

The complaint says the products developed by the Canadian company were used in battery assembly lines that could be run continuously at high speed, pumping out batteries at a much faster pace than firms without the technology.

Tesla was not immediately available to comment on the U.S. Federal Court complaint.

Prosecutors allege that Pflugbeil and Shao – who remains at large – set up an unnamed company with offices in China, Brazil, Germany and Canada using the stolen trade secrets.

Pflugbiel is identified as a global president of Hife Systems Ltd. on the company’s website, which says it operates in those four countries.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2024.

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