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Chinese citizen charged with trade secrets theft in Oklahoma

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Federal prosecutors said Friday that a Chinese national employed by an Oklahoma petroleum company has been charged with stealing trade secrets.

Authorities said Hongjin Tan, 35, is accused of stealing trade secrets from his unnamed U.S.-based employer that operates a research facility in the Tulsa area.

An affidavit filed by the FBI alleges that Tan stole trade secrets about an unidentified product worth between $1.4 and $1.8 billion to his employer to benefit a Chinese company where Tan had been offered work.

Authorities say Tan allegedly downloaded hundreds of computer files, including research reports, regarding the manufacture of a “research and development downstream energy market product.”

The reports described not only how to make the product, which the company says “is a complicated and technically difficult process,” but also the company’s plans to market the product in China and in cellphone and lithium-based battery systems, according to the affidavit.

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“These files included information that (the company) considers to be trade secrets and outside the scope of Tan’s employment,” the affidavit says.

A LinkedIn profile lists a Hongjin Tan whose background matches descriptions in the affidavit and states he was a staff scientist at the Phillips 66 Research Center in Bartlesville, about 41 miles (66 kilometers) north of Tulsa.

A spokeswoman for Phillips 66, Melissa Ory, said in an email to The Associated Press that the Houston-based company “is cooperating with the FBI on an ongoing investigation involving a former employee at our Bartlesville location.” Ory declined to discuss additional details.

Court records show Tan made an initial appearance before a federal magistrate on Thursday and remains in custody. A preliminary and detention hearing for Tan is scheduled next week.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

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