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US DoJ Charges Russian National Alexander Korshunov With Conspiring to Steal Trade Secrets

The US Department of Justice announced Thursday that Alexander Yuryevich Korshunov, director for business development at Russia's United Engine Corporation, has been charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets. The charge carries a potential prison sentence of 10 years.

Korshunov, 57, was arrested in Naples, Italy on August 30 alongisde 59-year-old Maurizio Paolo Bianchi, on suspicion of industrial espionage. The court filing unsealed Thursday in the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio charges that the two "conspired and attempted ... to steal and convey the confidential and proprietary information constituting trade secrets of the Ohio-based Company A."

Bianchi was once the former director of Avio Aero, an Italian subsidiary of GE Aviation and one of the world's largest aircraft engine suppliers. However, after he left that job to work at Italian aerospace firm Aernova, he allegedly established a relationship with Korshunov, who then worked at the Russian-state-owned UEC. According to the filing, Aernova had a contract at the time with a UEC subsidiary named Aviadvigatel, a firm that specializes in engines for commercial aircraft.

"It is alleged that between 2013 and 2018, Bianchi – on behalf of Korshunov – hired current or former employees of GE Aviation’s Italian subsidiary to do consulting work related to jet engine accessory gearboxes for Bianchi and Korshunov," the DOJ press release announcing the charges states. "The employees’ statements of work typically stated that the '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.'”

"Throughout the consulting, employees allegedly used trade secrets owned by GE Aviation to create the technical report.  The effort focused on accessory gearboxes made by Avio Aero, which are external engine components that provide power to systems such as hydraulic pumps, generators and fuel pumps," the DOJ statement continues.

Following Korshunov's arrest Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called it "a really bad practice."

"In this case we're dealing with attempts at dishonest competition," he told reporters at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, noting the contract between the two firms is "a normal global practice. It's open commercial work with European partners."

Following the Justice Department's announcement, the Russian Embassy in the US issued a Thursday statement calling on the State Department to immediately recall its extradition request for Korshunov.

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