A former lead scientist for Corning Inc. – a technology company manufacturing glass vials for COVID-19 vaccines – was indicted for stealing company technology for use in China, including Chinese Communist Party-sanctioned business ventures.
Corning’s Wang Ji was indicted on charges of economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, and unlawful exports. Wang, who worked for the company from 1998 to 2019, was a lead scientist on a Corning project developing optical laser fibers to attack hostile drones, which counted $16 million in funding from the U.S. government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
He allegedly stole files relevant to the project to set up a business using the same technology in China and was in negotiations with several Chinese Communist Party authorities in the city of Tianjian to set up the company.
The indictment follows Corning, which supplies pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. government to manufacture glass vials for COVID-19 vaccines. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) granted Corning $204 million and the company received another $57 million infusion from the federal government in March of 2021.
If convicted, Wang will face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million.