Chinese firms stole sensitive data from Swiss-based competitor

Chinese spies are on the radar of the Swiss intelligence service. Keystone / Sascha Steinbach

Swiss investigators have broken up a Chinese industrial spying scheme that stole hundreds of sensitive documents from a technology company in Switzerland, reports the SonntagsZeitung newspaper. Prosecutors confirmed that a technician was fined for his part in the affair.

The news comes days after the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service had highlighted the ongoing threat of Chinese espionage in its annual report on the risks facing Switzerland.

The SonntagsZeitung  reports that the victim of this case was a Swiss subsidiary of the Dutch company Besi, which manufactures machines that make computer chips. The perpetrators were an unknown number of unnamed Chinese companies that used two Singapore-based agents to infiltrate the Swiss branch of the Besi firm, according to the article.

It states that an IT manager at Besi Switzerland posted and e-mailed some 700 secret documents from the company to Singapore, which were then sent to China. He was paid CHF35,000 ($35,000), a sum he was later fined after he was caught.

In an e-mailed response to enquiries, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) confirmed some details of the case. But the OAG redacted the names of the convicted IT support manager, the company involved, the perpetrators and where they were based.

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