Ex-Broadcom engineer charged with stealing trade secrets for Chinese start-up

SAN JOSE – A former veteran engineer at Broadcom was charged by the US with stealing trade secrets for chips used in high-volume data centres and taking them to his new job with a China-based start-up.

Peter Kisang Kim, 50, was a principal engineer at San Jose, California-based Broadcom and had worked there for more than 20 years when he left the company in July 2020, according to a grand jury indictment unsealed on Tuesday ( 9).

About 10 days later, he started work as a director for a China-based startup “seeking to become a leading chip designer focused on China’s domestic market”, according to the indictment, which identifies the startup only as “Company-1”.

During the next nine months, Kim “repeatedly used Broadcom trade secrets” on devices provided by his new employer, according to a statement issued by the US attorney’s office in San Francisco.

Kim pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Tuesday to 18 counts of trade-secret theft and faces as long as 10 years in prison for each count if he’s convicted.

The US has escalated efforts in recent years to combat activities by the Chinese government that include hacking, espionage and the theft of trade secrets.

At the same time, however, the Justice Department has come under criticism for creating bias against Asian Americans and Chinese citizens in the US.

Under former President Donald Trump, the department began the so-called China Initiative, which included targeting Chinese researchers and scientists working in the US.

President Joe Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, said in June that the Justice Department will counter illegal activity by the Chinese government while being careful to avoid negatively stereotyping Asian Americans and citizens of China.

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