Taiwanese prosecutors indicted six HTC employees including former HTC Vice President of Design Thomas Chien for leaking company secrets, faking expense reports, and taking kickbacks. Chien and the others were arrested last August after an internal probe led by HTC chairwoman Cher Wang.
The Taipei District Prosecutors Office said that Thomas Chien was charged with leaking the upcoming Sense 6.0 UI design to outside suppliers. They planned to use the leaked documents to start their own phone design company in Taiwan and China.
Chien and 5 other HTC employees were also charged with breach of trust for accepting 33.57 million New Taiwan dollars (US$1.12 million) in falsified expenses and kickbacks from the suppliers. Three individuals from the suppliers were also included in the charge however they remain unnamed.
The Taipei Times named the 5 other HTC employees involved in the indictment as HTC senior manager of design and innovation Huang Kuo-ching, HTC research and development director Wu Chien-hung, senior manager of design and innovation Huang Hung-yi, manufacturing design department manager Hung Chung-yi, and employee Chen Shih-tsou.
An HTC representative said that “The company expects employees to observe and practice the highest levels of integrity and ethics. Protecting the company’s proprietary and intellectual properties, privacy and security is a core fundamental responsibility of every employee. The company does not condone any violation.”
Under the Trade Secrets Act of Taiwan anyone found guilty of leaking trade secrets to other countries will face a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of between $100,000 and $1.6 million. The $1.6 million illegally obtained by the guilty parties will penalize them between 2 to 10 times that amount.
Last August Chien was caught secretly downloading the upcoming Sense 6.0 UI design and sharing this data with several contacts in his email. In addition to this, he and other designers were accused of invoicing HTC with $334,000 and splitting the fee for themselves.