NEW YORK (REUTERS) - A research chemist for Sanofi-Aventis pleaded guilty on Tuesday to stealing trade secrets from the pharmaceutical giant and making them available for sale through a Chinese company, prosecutors said.
Yuan Li, 29, of Somerset, New Jersey, appeared before U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano in Trenton federal court and pleaded guilty to one count of theft of trade secrets, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
A Chinese national, Li worked as a research scientist at Sanofi's U.S. headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey, from August 2006 to June 2011, where she directly helped develop a number of compounds the company viewed as potential "building blocks" for future drugs, the release said.
While at Sanofi, Li also was a 50 percent partner in Abby Pharmatech Inc, a U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese chemical company engaged in the sale and distribution of pharmaceuticals.
Li admitted that between October 2008 and June 2011, she accessed an internal Sanofi database and downloaded information about a number of compounds, including their chemical structures, to her company laptop. She transferred the information to her personal home computer by sending herself an e-mail or using a USB thumb drive and made the stolen compounds available for sale on Abby's website, Fishman said.