A former GlaxoSmithKline Plc scientist pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiring to steal trade secrets from the British drug manufacturer to benefit a Chinese pharmaceutical company.
Lucy Xi, 44, entered her plea in Philadelphia federal court, becoming the fourth person to admit to wrongdoing in connection with a scheme to misuse GSK’s trade secrets to benefit Renopharma, which received financial support from the Chinese government.
U.S. District Judge Joel Slomsky scheduled Xi for sentencing on April 12. Eric Yaffe, her lawyer at Lathrop GPM, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The case, which was announced in 2016, is among several the Justice Department has pursued in recent years amid heightened concern about Chinese theft of U.S. trade secrets.
According to an indictment, from 2012 to 2016, Xi and another GSK scientist, Yu Xue, stole confidential information from GSK about products that were under development and then provided the data for use by Renopharma.
Prosecutors said Xue, along with co-defendants Tao Li and Yan Mei, created Renopharma in Nanjing, China, to market and sell the stolen information as its own research and to obtain patents for Renopharma versions of GSK’s products.
Prosecutors said that Xi was married to Mei and in 2015 emailed a GSK document that provided a summary of GSK research into monoclonal antibodies.
“You need to understand it very well,” Xi wrote, according to prosecutors. “It will help you in your future business.”
That document formed the basis of Xi’s plea to a single count in the indictment against her.
Xue, her sister, Tian Xue, and Li have previously pleaded guilty. Mei resides in China and is considered a fugitive by the U.S. government. A related case against Gongda Xue, another of Xue’s sisters, is slated for trial in April.
The case is United States v. Xue, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 16-cr-00022.