Ex-Apple Employee Accused of Stealing Trade Secrets for Baidu’s Autonomous Car Project

Federal prosecutors have accused Wang for agreeing to work for a US subsidiary of a Chinese automaker a few months before he left Apple in 2018.

Weibao Wang, a former Apple employee, is now facing major charges of stealing trade secrets from Apple’s self-driving car division and passing on the information to Baidu’s autonomous car project. On Tuesday, May 16, the US government accused Wang of stealing Apple’s “autonomous” source code.

In the charging documents, the US government hasn’t mentioned for whom Wang works now. But as per details from Reuters and other company profiles, Wang is an executive at Jidu, an EV joint venture between Chinese carmaker Geely and Chinese internet company Baidu.

The US government has expressed concern that Beijing is using various different tactics to steal proprietary information from American companies along with the “corrupting insiders”. Tuesday’s announcement comes as a part of the Department of Justice task force designed to “counter efforts by hostile nation-states to illicitly acquire sensitive US technology.”

Federal prosecutors have accused Wang of agreeing to work for a US subsidiary of a Chinese automaker a few months before he left Apple in 2018. Besides, Wang also faced charges of stealing privileged information while dealing with Apple’s autonomous systems development and forwarding it to an unnamed Chinese company.

A LinkedIn profile, which now appears deleted, showed that Wang left Apple before working at a healthcare artificial intelligence firm called Singularity.AI having offices in California and China. After that, he worked as a chief technology officer at Neolix, a Chinese self-driving car company. Then in 2021, Wang joined Jidu to support the company’s autonomous car project.

Wang Flew to China

Tuesday’s filing shows that back in 2018, law enforcement officials searched Wang’s apartment over suspicions of taking away Apple’s internal company files. The filing shows that Wang purchased a ticket and flew to China the very same day. As per the filing, Wang will no longer be able to travel to the US without risking an arrest.

Wang is not the first Apple employee in China to face accusations of stealing company information. Previously, two other employees have faced similar charges with one of them having pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets from Apple. Both of the employees were arrested separately in 2018 and 2019.

As we know, Apple has been working on its autonomous car project for a long time since 2015. Although the company has never discussed the plans publicly and hasn’t unveiled any car so far. The US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, which is prosecuting the case, hasn’t commented yet on this.

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Bhushan Akolkar

Bhushan is a FinTech enthusiast and holds a good flair in understanding financial markets. His interest in economics and finance draw his attention towards the new emerging Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency markets. He is continuously in a learning process and keeps himself motivated by sharing his acquired knowledge. In free time he reads thriller fictions novels and sometimes explore his culinary skills.

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