Former Lilly employees accused of selling trade secrets to China

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Two former Eli Lilly employees have been accused of stealing trade secrets to help a competitor of the company.

Guoqing Cao and Shuyu Li have been arrested and will continue to be detained in federal custody. Their hearings have not been scheduled.

United States Attorney Joseph Hogsett said the men shared information and are believed to have stolen confidential and protected information to help a Chinese company. Hogsett said the trade secrets are valuable, but whether Cao and Li profited from it, remains under investigation. Hogsett said Eli Lilly invested millions of dollars and years of time to their research and that should be protected.

“All told, the facts are clear. Stolen trade secrets account for billions of (dollars) of loses for American companies throughout our nation, not only just here in Indianapolis and Indiana,” Hogsett said.

The FBI investigated Cao and Li for about a year. Hogsett said a third unnamed person was mentioned in the same indictment. That person has not been arrested or charged. Hogsett said the involvement of the third individual, remains under investigation.

Eli Lilly released a statement on Tuesday that said in part:

“We are appalled and very disappointed by the crimes allegedly committed by these former Lilly employees. Scientific discovery and the proprietary information gained from our research are the foundation of the company’s efforts to bring breakthrough medicines to patients around the world. This same research and intellectual property also are vital.”

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