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10 July 2019AmericasRory O'Neill

Swiss court mulls extradition of Chinese researcher accused of GSK trade secrets theft

US authorities are seeking the extradition of a Chinese researcher from Switzerland for his part in a conspiracy to steal trade secrets from British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Gongda Xue, 48, remains in Swiss custody after the Federal Court of Switzerland deemed him a flight risk, documents released this week showed.

Xue’s sister, Yu Xue, pled guilty last year to stealing confidential information from her then-employer GSK, with the intention of benefiting her pharmaceutical start-up in China.

The trade secrets concerned methods of producing antibodies that targeted cancer cells.

According to US prosecutors, Yu Xue transferred sensitive and confidential information from her work email account to co-conspirators in China, as well as her brother in Switzerland.

Yu Xue sent her brother confidential information obtained from GSK, as well as pharmaceutical samples from Renopharma for testing, prosecutors alleged.

According to the indictment, Gongda Xue also provided his co-conspirators with confidential scientific documents belonging to his then-employer, the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Reseach (FMI) in Basel.

On Monday, the Federal Court of Switzerland published a judgement in which it deemed Gongda Xue to be a flight risk.

In a statement sent to LSIPR, the FMI confirmed that Gongda Xue had been employed as a postdoctoral research trainee from 2008 to 2014, and that he had “inappropriately used FMI facilities to test the compounds from GSK”.

The FMI said that it has cooperated with US authorities during the investigation.

“It is important to note that the allegations that are the basis for the indictment involve Xue assisting his sister misappropriating trade secrets from GSK” rather than the FMI, the statement added.

The Swiss court is still considering the US’ extradition request against Gongda Xue.

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More on this story

Americas
24 December 2020   A US federal appeals court has upheld a 42-month prison sentence for an ex-employee of DuPont Industrial Biosciences who stole trade secrets from the firm.
Americas
17 June 2021   Two former GlaxoSmithKline researchers do not have to pay restitution for stealing the drugmaker’s trade secrets, a Pennsylvania court has ruled.
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3 May 2022   A scientist working in Switzerland has been convicted of conspiring with his sister and others to steal trade secrets from GlaxoSmithKline for the benefit of their respective biopharmaceutical ventures.