03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Mike Yu: Chinese Engineer Charged WIth Stealing Car Secrets From Ford

Poor Ford: The automaker just can't seem to get a break.

The company is being plagued by yet one more problem: a Chinese employee who may have stolen 4,000 critical documents containing company trade secrets.

The FBI reports that Xiang Dong (Mike) Yu had been a product engineer with Ford Motor Co. for ten years, from 1997 to 2007.

The indictment alleges that in December 2006, Yu accepted a job with the China branch of another US company (electronics manufacturer Foxconn PCE Industry Inc.), and copied sensitive Ford documents prior to his departure from Ford, with the purposes of leveraging the trade secrets to gain employment.

The FBI wrote in a Department of Justice press release:

The indictment alleges that on the eve of his departure from Ford and before he told Ford of his new job, Yu copied some 4,000 Ford documents onto an external hard drive, including sensitive Ford design documents. Included in those documents were system design specifications for the Engine/Transmission Mounting Subsystem, Electrical Distribution system, Electric Power Supply, Electrical Subsystem and Generic Body Module, among others. [...]

The indictment also alleges that Yu took Ford design documents to China in July 2005 in conjunction with his efforts to obtain employment with a Chinese automotive company.

Lastly, the indictment alleges that Yu used stolen Ford documents in an effort to secure employment with a Chinese automotive company in 2008.

Yu was arrested at the O'Hare airport in Chicago after exiting a flight from China, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Each count of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets can be punished with up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.