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General Electric employee charged with stealing company's trade secrets to smuggle back to China

Xiaoqing Zheng, 56, used sophisticated means to remove electronic files from a GE turbine technology plant in New York

General Electric
General Electric began monitoring Zheng's computers after determining he stole 19,020 data files

A General Electric company (NYSE:GE) engineer has been charged with stealing the company's trade secrets for his own business in China, according to the FBI.

Xiaoqing Zheng, 55, used “sophisticated means” to remove electronic files about the company's turbine technology from a GE manufacturing plant in upstate New York.

He was arrested by FBI agents on Wednesday at his home in Niskayuna, northwest of Albany. They also seized passports and electronic devices from his house, the AP reports.

READ: China’s sovereign fund exits Blackstone investment after 11 years amid growing US-China tension

Zheng allegedly hid data files in a digital photograph of a sunset, and e-mailed it to himself, according to court documents.

General Electric began monitoring his computers after determining that he used a thumb drive to take 19,020 data files, and had 400 more encrypted on his work PC in 2014, the AP reports.

He appeared in court yesterday and was detained. He is scheduled to appear in court again today.

"The fact that Zheng accomplished this complex process so quickly and easily makes it highly probable that he had practiced these techniques and utilized them in the past," Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent M.D. McDonald wrote in a complaint seen by the AP.

Shares in GE are currently down 2.86% to US$13.24.

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