Ex-Intel Employee Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud Charges
A former Intel engineer pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud charges stemming from accusations that he had stolen $1 billion worth of trade secrets from the California-based chipmaker, various news outlets reported over the weekend.
Thirty-six year old Biswamohan Pani of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, had been employed at a Hudson, Massachusetts-based Intel manufacturing plant for several years until he gave notice on May 29, 2008, that he would be leaving the company, according to reports from Bloomberg‘s Andrew Harris.
He requested that June 11 be his last day of work, while he secretly started working at rival chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) on June 2, Harris said.
During that time, he had access to Intel’s data system, and downloaded some of the company’s “most valuable” design and manufacturing documents while working out his final few days there, Gerry Shih of Reuters said Friday.
According to VentureBeat‘s Sarah Mitroff, Pani had stolen information relating to “the manufacturing and design of Intel´s Itanium microprocessor” — information which federal prosecutors discovered in his home. AMD reportedly never used the materials, which were found before Pani could attempt to use them for his own benefit.
AMD fired the engineer after charges were filed, and PCMag.com‘s Damon Poeter notes that prosecutors believe that Pani acted alone and that Intel’s rival did not encourage him to steal the company’s top-secret information.
A spokesman told Poeter on Saturday that the Sunnyvale, California-based company did not have “any involvement in or awareness of Mr. Pani’s alleged actions.”
Likewise, federal prosecutors told Harris, “The FBI was able to recover these documents quickly, before Pani could use them to Intel´s disadvantage, largely because Intel reported the theft quickly and assisted the investigation,” and that AMD also cooperated with their probe.
The value of the information is an estimated $200 million to $400 million, according to various sources. Pani will be sentenced in August, and he could face upwards of 20 years in prison for each of the five fraud counts.