Canadian police on Monday charged a Hydro-Québec employee with espionage for allegedly sending trade secrets to China.
Yuesheng Wang, 35, will appear in court in Longueuil, Quebec, on Tuesday to face charges of obtaining trade secrets, unauthorized use of a computer, and fraud and breach of trust by a public official.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said its homeland security enforcement team launched an investigation in August after receiving a complaint from Hydro-Québec’s corporate security arm.
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RCMP Inspector David Beaudoin said that while working at Hydro-Québec, Wang allegedly used his position to conduct research for a Chinese university and other Chinese research centers. Beaudoin said he reportedly published scientific papers and filed patents in “association with this foreign actor rather than Hydro Quebec.”
“He obtained this information to benefit the People’s Republic of China to the detriment of Canada’s economic interests,” Beaudoin said.
Beaudoin said he used the information without his employer’s prior knowledge or approval. The alleged crimes took place between February 2018 and October 2022.
Wang, a resident of Candiac, Quebec, south of Montreal, allegedly had access to the relevant information as part of his job at the provincial utility company, police said.
In a statement, Hydro-Québec said Wang was a researcher working on battery materials with the Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage, known as CETEES. The utility company said his security team launched its own investigation before quickly alerting authorities.
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“Our detection and intervention mechanisms enabled our investigators to bring this matter to the attention of the RCMP, with whom we have worked closely ever since,” said Dominic Roy, senior director responsible for corporate security.
“No organization is safe from a situation like this, so we must always remain vigilant and transparent, and we must not tolerate violations of the company’s code of ethics.”
The former employee did not have access to information related to Hydro-Québec’s “core mission,” and his access was revoked when suspicions were raised, the company added. He said the center where he worked develops technology for electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
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Hydro-Québec is Quebec’s public utility company that manages the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in the Canadian province, as well as the export of energy to parts of the northeastern US.
The RCMP said foreign interference has become a priority for law enforcement, adding that it is working with sectors at risk to improve Canada’s response and resilience.