The United States has charged two Chinese intelligence officers in a scheme to bribe a US government employee to steal “secret” documents related to the prosecution of a company in China. The defendants paid the government employee, who is actually a double agent, approximately $61,000 in bitcoin for stealing the information, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
Alleged Chinese Spies Charged in Scheme to Steal Secret Documents
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced the unsealing of a criminal complaint accusing two Chinese intelligence officers of a scheme to bribe a US government employee and steal “secret” documents. The accused remain at large.
Guochun He (aka Dong He and Jacky He) and Zheng Wang (aka Zen Wang) allegedly orchestrated a scheme to steal internal files and other non-public information from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The information relates to the ongoing investigation and prosecution of a global telecommunications company (Company-1) based in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). According to court documents, the company is the Chinese technology giant Huawei.
“Guochun He and Zheng Wang are charged with attempting to obstruct a criminal prosecution of Company-1 in federal district court in the Eastern District of New York,” the DOJ described, adding:
Defendant Li is also charged with two counts of money laundering based on bribe payments totaling approximately $61,000 in bitcoin, made in furtherance of the scheme.
The Scheme to Steal Secret US Documents
The DOJ explained that starting in 2019, the two Chinese intelligence officers directed an employee at a US government law enforcement agency (GE-1) to steal confidential information about the criminal prosecution of Company-1.
He and Wang believed that the US government employee had been recruited to work for the PRC. However, the employee was actually a double agent working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The defendants tasked GE-1 with reporting on meetings GE-1 allegedly had with prosecutors. In October 2021, GE-1 used an encrypted messaging app to send the defendants a single page of a purported internal strategic memorandum about the company-1 case. The DOJ noted:
The document appeared to be classified as “SECRET” and discuss a plan to charge and arrest two current Company-1 employees living in the PRC.
GE-1 was paid approximately $41,000 in bitcoin for stealing that document.
Defendant Li further told GE-1 that the company would be interested in GE-1 stealing another part of the strategic memorandum. He paid GE-1 an additional payment of $20,000 in bitcoin this month for the information. The DOJ detailed:
If convicted, Guochun He faces up to 60 years in prison and Wang faces up to 20 years in prison.
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