CHARLOTTE — In a Channel 9 exclusive, FBI agents gave Gina Esposito new insight on how a man stole a Charlotte business’s private information and secrets for the Chinese government.
Xiwen Huang was behind the scheme that Channel 9 first uncovered in 2015.
“When you look at Xiwen Huang, the insider threat indicator that he had posed, not only to the company in Charlotte but the other victim companies in the United States — the highlights in yellow blow off the paper,” said FBI special agent Jim Granozio.
Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over Huang’s house in Ballantyne on the same day, where seven years ago, agents linked him to the major scheme.
“During that interview, he admitted to stealing intellectual property, getting funding from the Chinese government, starting his own business in China and basically using all that to go into direct competition with our company here in Charlotte,” Granozio said.
According to Granozio, the Chinese government offered Huang incentives to steal a Charlotte-based energy technology company’s private information, which FBI agents later recovered on a hard drive.
Even though that information was never released, the Charlotte business fell.
“That company is no longer in existence. I would say mainly because of what happened here,” Granozio said.
In a new video released by the FBI, the CEO of that Charlotte business shared his story so he could warn others.
“So when this happened, it hurt. It’s like a family member that has betrayed the family, the company,” CEO Bill McMahon said.
Esposito asked Granozio how concerned people should be about this.
“Very concerned. I consider China to be our most significant counterintelligence threat to the United States,” he responded.
The special agent in charge, Robert R. Wells, said there are more than 2,000 investigations related to the Chinese government across the U.S., including in Charlotte.
“It’s China’s goal to be the world leader,” Wells said. “Anything they can do to get ahead — stealing years’ worth of research and development — they will do. You as a U.S. citizen should be concerned because if those jobs aren’t there, those tax dollars aren’t there, that’s going to go China and that’s a direct threat to our national security.”
That’s why Granozio said it’s important that companies — big and small — reach out to them and create “insider threat programs.” This way employees, like the ones who worked with Huang, can see the red flags.
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“Had his workmate in the cubicle beside him been trained on insider threats, we believe they would have been able to recognize that Xiwen Huang posed some risk,” Granozio said.
Huang served 60 months in prison and is now out.
The FBI said China has a five-year plan to steal information from specific technologies in the U.S.
The agency said it isn’t discouraging companies from doing business with China, but to take steps to protect intellectual property.
(WATCH BELOW: Man charged with stealing secrets from Charlotte-based company)
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