NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Federal authorities in Detroit charged a Michigan couple Thursday with stealing information about hybrid vehicle technology from General Motors and attempting to put it to use for a Chinese car company.
Yu Chin and his wife Sanshan Du of Troy, Mich., have been charged with, among other things, unauthorized possession of trade secrets and wire fraud.
According to the charges, from December 2003 to May 2006 Du conspired to obtain trade secrets about the automaker's hybrid vehicle technologies and passed that information to her husband who used it for the couple's own company, Millennium Technology International (MTI).
In January, 2005 GM offered Du, then a GM employee, a severance package. About five days later, she copied thousands of GM documents to a computer hard drive used for MTI business, authorities allege.
MTI later entered into a business venture to provide hybrid technology to the Chinese automaker Chery Automobile, a company that is a competitor of GM's in China.
In May 2006, the couple drove to a dumpster behind a grocery store where they discarded bags of shredded documents related to the case, authorities charge.
GM estimates the stolen information to be worth about $40 million, according to an announcement from U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
"We cooperated with the U.S. attorney's office in developing the case and will continue to cooperate with them as appropriate," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said.
CNN has not yet been able to reach the couple or their lawyers.
Wilbur Ross, Trump's pick for commerce secretary, is angered by these sneaky tactics he says China and other countries use to cheat the U.S. on trade. More
China and Japan sold a large amount of U.S. Treasury bonds in November. It's not just a reaction to Donald Trump and possible stimulus though. They have been selling bonds for months. If this continues, rates could creep even higher. More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More
If you're smart about when you first claim Social Security, you can increase your benefits and reap the rewards for the rest of your life. More