Seven men are facing charges in federal court for conspiring to steal trade secrets from a high-tech Houston area engineering company and sell those secrets to a Chinese company.
Agents from the FBI and the IRS Criminal Investigative Division raided the $1.6 million home in the Hedwig Village community on Tuesday, and arrested 52-year old Shan Shi, who stands accused of creating a dummy corporation in Houston, and hiring employees to steal the technology, known as syntactic foam, from another Houston company.
Agents also raided a home in the 13600 block of FM 529 as part of that same criminal investigation.
Arrested along with Shi in Houston were Uka Kalu Uche, 35, of Spring; Samuel Abotar Ogoe, 74, of Missouri City; and Johnny Randall, 48, of Conroe; and Kui Bo, 40, who is a Canadian citizen, and Gang Liu, 31, a Chinese national.
Bo and Liu have been residing in Houston as permanent residents, officials said.
Syntactic foam, is a lightweight substance that can see use in various watercraft to help heavy objects float, and has been used in oil exploration, aerospace technology, underwater vehicles, submarines and stealth technology, officials said.
Shi had paid off the employees with cash to steal the technology, which he planned to sell to a state-run Chinese firm, federal prosecutors said.
Prosecutors added Shi used funds from the Chinese firm to purchase the home in Hedwig Village, where many of the transactions were conducted, as well as an office in northwest Harris County.
As a result, the FBI has filed court papers to seize the multi-million dollar Hedwig Village home, as well as office space belonging to Shi’s company in northwest Harris County.
The goal of the Chinese firm was to use the technology to advance the Chinese government’s push to improve its marine engineering technology.
Federal prosecutors believe the group had been attempting to steal the technology since 2012.
The defendants all face up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted.