U.S. charges chinese oil employee with stealing secrets

US Department of Justice headquarters
US Department of Justice headquarters

Hongjin Tan, a Chinese national who worked for a U.S. petroleum company, was arrested Dec. 20 and charged with theft of trade secrets from his employer.

Tan “allegedly stole trade secrets related to a product worth more than $1 billion from his U.S.-based petroleum company employer, to use for the benefit of a Chinese company where he was offered employment,” John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a Justice Department statement on Friday.

A LinkedIn page with his name says he’s part of a research team at Phillips 66. The refiner said it’s cooperating with authorities, while declining to confirm the former employee’s name.

“We can confirm that we are cooperating with the FBI on an ongoing investigation involving a former employee at our Bartlesville location,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We are unable to share any further details at this time.”

Trent Shores, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Oklahoma, said the company has “significant operations” in Oklahoma. Secrets involve the manufacture of a “research and development downstream energy market product,” according to the criminal complaint.

Tan is a 35-year-old Chinese national and U.S. legal permanent resident.