Chinese scientist accused of trade secret theft extradited from Switzerland for Philly trial

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A 50-year-old Chinese biochemist Gongda Xue has lost a legal battle against extradition from Switzerland for allegedly trying to steal GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) trade secrets. U.S. Magistrate Judge David R. Strawbridge scheduled a March 16 hearing for the case in Philadelphia Inqurier.com reports.

It was reported that he received valuable proprietary cancer research that his sister, Yu Xue, stole during her time with GlaxoSmithKline. His sister allegedly worked in the research facility, located in Upper Merion, from 2006 to 2016.

Outlets report that Gongda appeared in federal court Monday, where he faced charges of theft of trade secrets, wire fraud and conspiracy.  

Defense lawyers Marc Eisenstein and Barry Coburn have denied the allegations and put the blame on his sister, Yu. His lawyers also questioned the value of the research in question, which has been alleged by some sources to be potentially worth over $1 billion.

Yu is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in 2018. She plead guilty to stealing research on a promising cancer therapy. 

It was reported that the four codefendants, including Yu’s twin sister and another former GSK colleague were planning on opening their own company. The alleged criminal act therefore had the potential to put the Chinese at the forefront of cancer research.

Their firm was called Renopharma, and they received 4,000 square feet of free lab space and $2 million in grants from the Chinese government, according to Inqurier.com. Projections for the company’s worth over only a few years exceeded $10 billion. 

It was reported that Gongda had no formal role within the company. He moved to Switzerland in 1999 and worked at different universities. He was a legal permanent resident of the U.S. and, prior to his arrest, lived in Basel, Switzerland with his son and wife. 

Officials revealed that he reviewed many of the documents that his sister stole, and shared information from the Friedrich Miescher Institute, a biomedical research organization. The institute employed him from 2008 to 2014. 

Four months prior to his sister’s arrest in 2015, he started his own firm. Inqurier.com reports that authorities allege he was planning on using the stolen information for profit. 

In a recent court filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Livermore wrote, “Both Gongda Xue and Yu Xue knew that a successful anticancer product could reap billions of dollars per year in revenue.” 

Xue added, “While working for their respective entities, [both] secretly formed their own companies in hopes of profiting from their research.”

Inqurier.com reports that Gongda Xue’s lawyers are trying to get him released and placed under house arrest as he awaits trial. U.S. officials have filed an immigration detainer on him, meaning that if his bail request is granted, he may be transferred to an immigration detention facility. 

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