Indian scientist charged with sending drug ‘recipes’ to India

December 1st, 2011 - 7:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 1 (IANS) An Indian American scientist has been charged with emailing trade secrets from an American drug company to his brother-in-law in India, who was setting up a competing company.

Prabhu Mohapatra, 42, who worked as a senior scientist at North Logan, Utah-based Frontier Scientific Inc., from Oct 2009 to Nov 2011 emailed proprietary “recipes” of a chemical that no other company in the world produces in large quantities, according to the complaint filed in a US district court.

A co-worker saw Mohapatra creating files containing the recipes on his laptop and emailing them. The co-worker reported the activity to Frontier management. Confronted by company executives, Mohapatra admitted he was involved and apologized, court documents show, Salt Lake City-based Desert News reported.

Mohapatra followed up with an email to the chief operating office saying, “I realised I may have done something wrong…Even if you lay me off or put me in jail I will not do anything to hurt FSI.”

The complaint also shows Mohapatra emailed his brother-in-law’s company saying: “I will lose my job and even could face jail time if you make and sell any product that is currently listed in FSI’s catalog.”

Federal prosecutors charged Mohapatra with theft of trade secrets, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Prosecutors did not seek detention and Mohapatra was released from custody, but surrendered his passport.

FBI agents used the case against Mohapatra to highlight their concerns about what they said may be a growing problem of industrial spying. The schemes are usually more mundane than a Hollywood plot, Special Agent Karl Schmae said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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