Osaka – Police sent papers on a former Sekisui Chemical Co. employee to public prosecutors Tuesday for allegedly leaking confidential details of the firm’s technology to a Chinese company.
Osaka Prefectural Police have charged the former male employee, 45, with violating the law for preventing unfair competition. He was dismissed from the major chemical maker, based in the city of Osaka, after the incident came to light.
The Chinese firm, ChaoZhou Three-circle Group Co., a maker of components for telecommunications equipment, contacted the man via a social media platform aimed at business people to obtain the confidential information, investigative sources said.
The man is suspected of sending the information by email to ChaoZhou Three-circle Group, based in Guangdong Province, between August 2018 and January 2019, when he was working for the technology development division of Sekisui Chemical, according to the sources.
The leaked information related to the process for manufacturing conductive particles used in smartphone touch panels.
The man made a list of equipment related to the process while importing images of relevant equipment and other data from Sekisui Chemical’s server to a USB stick, and he then sent the data to ChaoZhou Three-circle Group two times via email, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.
A ChaoZhou Three-circle Group worker approached the former Sekisui Chemical employee through the social media platform using a false identity and claiming to represent a different Chinese company, and invited him to visit China to give advice about technology. The individual then revealed their real identity to the man and proposed the information exchange, the sources said.
The man traveled to China several times, with the Chinese company covering expenses for his trips.
The former Sekisui Chemical employee admitted to the charges against him, telling to the police that he wanted to deepen his knowledge by exchanging information with the Chinese company in order to boost his reputation within the Japanese chemical maker.
But ChaoZhou Three-circle Group provided the man with no information in exchange for the Sekisui Chemical trade secrets, and no transactions of money or goods linked to the case have been confirmed, the investigative sources said.
The police launched the investigation following a criminal complaint filed by Sekisui Chemical against the former employee.
“The leaked data did not include information on our customers or business partners,” the company said while offering an apology for the incident.
“We are enhancing information management and employee education, and will continue making efforts to prevent a recurrence of such an incident,” it added.