China-based Canadian stole Tesla secrets, say U.S. prosecutors

NEW YORK — A Canadian resident of China has been arrested in the United States for allegedly stealing electric car manufacturer Tesla’s trade secrets and conspiring to sell them to undercover law enforcement officers.

Klaus Pflugbeil, the operator of a China-based business that sells technology used in electric vehicles, was arrested on Tuesday in New York, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said.

He had traveled for a meeting with undercover agents whom he had believed were Long Island businesspeople, prosecutors said.

Pflugbeil and business partner Yilong Shao built their business using trade secrets belonging to “a leading U.S.-based electric vehicle company,” prosecutors said. Shao was also charged but remained at large.

Prosecutors did not name the U.S.-based company, but said it acquired a Canada-based manufacturer of battery assembly lines in 2019. That matches the description of Tesla’s acquisition of a Canadian company named Hibar.

Both Pflugbeil and Shao are former employees of the Canadian company, prosecutors said.

Pflugbeil was expected to make an initial appearance in Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors said. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shao could not be reached for comment.

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