In an indictment unsealed Friday, the Justice Department alleges Russian and Italian nationals stole trade secrets from GE Aviation between 2013 and 2018. The arrest of Alexander Yuryevich Korshunov and Maurizio Paolo Bianchi come one year after a Chinese official was arrested for stealing trade secrets from the company.
According to the federal grand jury indictment in Cincinnati, Korshunov was an employee of a Russian state-owned company, and had been a Russian public official whose service included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
When he worked for United Engine Corp (a subsidiary of Aviadvigatel - a Russian state-owned company) it was seen as a company acting "contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States."
Until 2012, Bianchi worked at Avio S.p.A., an Italian aerospace company that GE Aviation bought in 2013.
The Justice Department alleges that Bianchi, on behalf of Korshunov, recruited current or former employees of Avio Aero to learn about gearboxes which are used to transfer the power from jet engines to other airplane power systems.
If convicted, both could get 10 years in prison.
Bianchi was arrested in Marino, Italy, on Oct. 2. Korshunov was arrested at Naples International Airport in Italy Aug. 30.
Here is GE Aviation's statement on the case and arrests:
The individuals charged in this case targeted employees of Avio Aero, a GE Aviation subsidiary company in Italy, in an effort to illegally obtain trade secrets related to external engine components. We protect and defend our intellectual property (IP). We have strict processes in place for identifying these issues, and we cooperate with law enforcement in an effort to protect our business. Strong IP protection is critical to our ability to succeed over the long term.