A University of California, Los Angeles professor faces a maximum sentence of 219 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of smuggling chips with military applications to China.
Yi-Chi Shih, an electrical engineer and adjunct professor at UCLA, was found guilty last month by a Los Angeles jury, officials said in a statement this week. He was convicted on 18 counts, including making an illegal export and multiple fraud charges.
Shih and another defendant, Kiet Ahn Mai, were found to have worked together to defraud an American semiconductor chip manufacturer. According to prosecutors, Mai posed as a potential customer to obtain chip designs from the unnamed company, then illegally sent the products to China.
In a statement, prosecutors said the chips were sent to a Chinese company where Shih was president. He paid for the scheme through a bank account based in the United States, which was funded through another company based in China.
The chips stolen in the scheme “are used in missiles, missile guidance systems, fighter jets, electronic warfare, electronic warfare countermeasures and radar applications,” according to the statement.
Industrial espionage is a key point of dispute between the US and China, an issue that has recently intensified as trade negotiations heat up between the two countries. In the past, the US has accused prominent Chinese companies, including Huawei, of stealing technology from American businesses.
Shih’s sentence will be determined at a later date.