Sanofi researcher admits to stealing trade secrets on experimental compounds

A research scientist who until recently worked in Sanofi's Bridgewater, NJ, facility is facing up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of stealing information about experimental compounds and then putting the compounds up for sale by a subsidiary of a Chinese chemical company.

Yuan Li admitted to downloading trade secrets from Sanofi's database from the fall of 2008 up until last summer and then either emailing them to herself or storing them on a thumb drive, according to a Reuters report. Abby Pharmatech would then put the compounds—designated as the building blocks for new drugs—up for sale. Li owned half of the subsidiary operation.

"Sanofi takes the protection of its intellectual property seriously," says Sanofi ($SNY) spokesperson Jack Cox. "The company has been and will continue to cooperate with federal authorities, as appropriate, in this matter."

Li agreed to pay $131,000 in restitution and also faces a possible $250,000 fine for the thefts when she is sentenced in April.

- here's the story from Reuters