On Wednesday in Boston, Massachusetts, 36-year-old Biswamohan Pani was sentenced to three years in federal prison for allegedly stealing company secrets from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel. Pani, who back in April pleaded guilty to five counts of stealing trade secrets and wire fraud for violating Intel's confidentiality agreements, was also sentenced to two years of probation and given a $17,500 fine.
According to prosecutors, Pani, a former design engineer at Intel, downloaded secret documents from the chip giant back in June 2008 while supposedly using his final vacation time. Pani officially resigned from the company's Hudson, Mass. office in May, but had also gained employment with rival chipmaker AMD in March 2008, essentially stealing the documents while on both Intel and AMD payrolls months later.
In co-operation with the FBI, AMD later said that it was unaware of Pani's sensitive payload or his Intel employment. The FBI eventually determined that the company had no part in the actual theft, nor was there any evidence that Pani actually shared the information with AMD or any other company. The stolen documents were supposedly for his own use, the FBI said, so that he could advance his career in AMD or elsewhere by referencing it when needed.
"Pani had remotely accessed and downloaded top secret Intel documents from the [Intel] system between June 8 and June 10, 2008, when he was not working on projects for Intel and was purportedly on vacation," FBI Special Agent Timothy Russell of the Boston FBI cyber crimes squad wrote in an affidavit.
Intel reportedly said that after Pani's departure, it suspected he stole documents valued between $200 million and $400 million USD. Intel contacted the local authorities after obtaining substantial proof of the theft.
"The downloaded documents included mission-critical documents describing in detail the process Intel uses for designing its newest generation of microprocessors," the FBI affidavit alleged. "They included confidential and proprietary business information that also constitutes trade secrets."