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Taiwan arrests 6 BASF engineers for 'leaking technology' to China

In a statement on its local website, BASF said one current local employee was under investigation

AFP | PTI  |  Taipei 

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Six former and current engineers for German have been arrested in on suspicion of leaking valuable technology to a competitor in China, authorities said Monday.

Taiwan's (CIB) released a statement saying the suspects were involved in a plot "to and .. to make illegal profits".

An with knowledge of the investigation said the group allegedly sold the trade secrets to Jiangyin Jianghua Microelectronics Materials, a tech company based in China's eastern province, pocketing $1.3 million.

"The technology involved in the case has an estimated market value of 100 million euros ($114 million) although the suspects were caught before they could sell the most confidential information," the official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

The CIB did not provide a breakdown of how many suspects were working for at the time of the arrests but they said they included "high ranking" officials including at least one at factory

In a statement on its local website, said one current local employee was under investigation.

"We have taken immediate steps to support the investigation led by local law enforcement officials and protect the relevant information," the company said.

The arrests come as US spars with over its alleged theft of US technological know-how, one of a litany of grievances in his trade war with the Asian power.

In March, Trump imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports from for punishment over alleged IP theft, which the US says costs its as much as $600 billion a year.

has denied the allegations and has taken steps to improve IP protections in recent years, including establishing specialised courts to handle matters including patent disputes, copyright and trademark infringement.

But a recent report by US Trade Robert Lighthizer's office accused China of continuing a campaign of state-backed cyber-attacks on American

Employees at Taiwanese have previously faced allegations of trade theft benefiting China.

In October 2018, the US restricted sales of to China's state-owned chipmaker Fujian Jinhua, accusing it of stealing trade secrets from US-based giant with the help of officials from

Taiwan's (UMC).

A year earlier, five former employees of Taiwan's local subsidiary were charged with passing trade secrets to China.

First Published: Mon, January 07 2019. 17:25 IST