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Russian, Italian nationals arrested on charges of trying to steal trade secrets from GE Aviation

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Sep 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 13:19:56-04

CINCINNATI — Authorities arrested an Italian national accused of trying to steal trade secrets from Cincinnati-based GE Aviation, according to federal officials.

Authorities arrested 59-year-old Maurizio Paolo Bianchi on Wednesday in Marino, Italy, federal officials said. Bianchi was a former director of GE Aviation’s Italian subsidiary, Avio Aero. Authorities arrested Alexander Yuryevich Korshunov, 57, on Aug. 30 at Naples International Airport in Italy.

Bianchi and Korshunov were indicted by a federal grand jury in Cincinnati on Sept. 11 with conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets and attempted theft of trade secrets.

The complaint alleges that Bianchi – on behalf of Korshunov – hired current or former Avio Aero employees between 2013 and 2018 to do consulting work related to jet engine accessory gearboxes. Employees allegedly used trade secrets owned by GE Aviation to create the technical report, then claimed it as property of the Russian government.

The employees’ statements of work typically said that “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,” according to the U.S. attorney’s release.

This allegedly happened after Bianchi went to work for a company called Aernova in Forli, Italy, and after Korshunov took a job at United Engine Corp (UEC), which included a subsidiary named Aviadvigatel, a branch of the Russian state-owned company. Aernova and Aviadvigatel had a contract during the time of the alleged conduct.

Aviadvigatel had been “entity listed” by the U.S. Commerce Department in September 2018 for acting contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests, Glassman's release said.

The affidavit alleges that Korshunov arranged and paid for employees to meet with him in June 2013 at the Paris Air Show in Le-Bourget, France, and in 2014 in Milan, Italy to discuss and revise the technical report.

Bianchi’s hires 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 release said.

Conspiring and attempting to steal trade secrets is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, according to the release.