Russia allegedly stole GE’s trade secrets and passed them off as its own

A GE Aviation employee builds an engine in Ohio.
A GE Aviation employee builds an engine in Ohio.
Image: Reuters/Matt Sullivan
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A Russian citizen was arrested in Italy last week for allegedly orchestrating a five-year scheme to steal General Electric’s trade secrets—and claim they belonged to the Russian state, according to the Southern District of Ohio US Attorney’s Office.

Alexander Korshunov, a former Russian foreign ministry official and an employee of the state-owned United Engine Corp. (UEC), colluded with Maurizio Bianchi, a former director at an Italian subsidiary of GE Aviation, according to a Department of Justice statement issued today. Both men have been charged with conspiring and attempting to steal trade secrets from a US company and could face up to 10 years in prison, the statement said.

On Korshunov’s behalf, Bianchi allegedly hired current or former GE Aviation employees as consultants between 2013 and 2018. They were paid to create a technical report about jet engine accessory gearboxes, for which they used GE Aviation’s trade secrets, the statement says. The firm Bianchi was working for allegedly had a contract with Aviadvigatel, a branch of UEC that the Department of Commerce flagged last year for “acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”

Despite the intellectual property belonging to GE, the employees’ statements of work allegedly said “the holders of patent and intellectual property obtained as a result of the work are…the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.”

Korshunov allegedly paid those employees to travel to Paris and Milan to discuss and revise the report.

GE and UEC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.