An AMD employee steals an estimated $1 Billion in secrets while still on Intel’s payroll.
If AMD didn’t have enough to worry about with its recent layoffs and the overall economy going down the toilet, now one of its ex-employees is facing charges of one count of theft of trade secrets, and four counts of wire fraud in a criminal complaint filed in August in U.S. District Court in Boston. If convicted, the ex-employee could serve ten years in prison for stealing trade secrets, and up to twenty years on each wire fraud charge.
According to The Associated Press, 33-year-old Biswamohan Pani downloaded the confidential documents - worth up to $1 Billion dollars (insert Dr. Evil grin here) - back in June after resigning from rival microprocessor manufacturer Intel. However, before leaving the company, he used his remaining paid vacation days, thus sat at home with full access to Intel’s network and earning a paycheck while gathering trade secrets. At the same time, Pani also began working for AMD. Naturally, the situation sounds rather suspicious on AMD’s part.
"AMD has not been accused of wrongdoing, and the FBI has stated that there is no evidence that AMD had any involvement in or awareness of Mr. Pani’s alleged actions," reports AMD.
Naturally, the contents of the sensitive material were not given other than a portion detailed methods for designing microprocessors. Pani claims that he had no intentions to hurt Intel, only to give the information to his wife, who coincidentally also worked for Intel. Pani’s lawyer, Brad Bailey, told the Associated Press that he plans to take the case to trial, that his client denies all allegations and then refused to comment on Pani’s case any further.
Prosecutors say otherwise however, claiming that Pani "planned to use this information to advance his career at AMD or elsewhere by drawing on it when the opportunity arose, whether with his employer’s knowledge or not." Prosecutors also reaffirmed that AMD had no knowledge of Pani’s actions and did not benefit from his theft.
Pani is no longer an employee at AMD.
Yesterday AMD reported that it terminated five hundreds jobs worldwide in an effort to cut costs and achieve a $1.5 billion "breakeven." Stock prices have also fallen, closing at $2.65 per share as of October 28, dropping nearly 90 percent since early 2006. Although AMD claims no involvement with Pani’s actions, it does seem rather suspicious given the company’s present situation. Currently Intel owns roughly 80 percent of the microprocessor market, leaving AMD the remaining 20 percent.
It wouldn’t be too surprising if something else stemmed from the recent charges against Pani, however prosecutors seem confident (or at least has not found any evidence proving otherwise) that AMD remained unaware and uninvolved during the theft.