Washington, DC - A Russian national and an Italian national have been charged in the United States with conspiring and attempting to steal trade secrets from an American aviation company.
Alexander Yuryevich Korshunov, 57, and Maurizio Paolo Bianchi, 59, were charged by a criminal complaint on August 21. Korshunov was arrested on August 30 at Naples International Airport in Italy.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Korshunov was an employee of a Russian state-owned company and had previously been a Russian public official whose service included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Bianchi was a former director at an Italian subsidiary of GE Aviation, one of the world’s top aircraft engine suppliers, which is headquartered in the Southern District of Ohio. While working for the subsidiary, Bianchi was responsible for business in China, Russia and Asia.
After leaving the subsidiary, Bianchi went to work for a company called Aernova in Forli, Italy.
Korshunov was employed at United Engine Corp (UEC), which included a subsidiary named Aviadvigatel (a branch of the Russian state-owned company), which had been “entity listed” by the U.S. Department of Commerce in September 2018 for acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.
Aernova and Aviadvigatel had a contract during the time of the alleged conduct.
It is alleged that between 2013 and 2018, Bianchi – on behalf of Korshunov – hired current or former employees of GE Aviation’s Italian subsidiary to do consulting work related to jet engine accessory gearboxes for Bianchi and Korshunov. The employees’ statements of work typically stated that the “the holders of patent and intellectual property obtained as a result of the work are…the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.”
Throughout the consulting, employees allegedly used trade secrets owned by GE Aviation to create the technical report. The effort focused on accessory gearboxes made by Avio Aero, which are external engine components that provide power to systems such as hydraulic pumps, generators and fuel pumps.
The affidavit details that Korshunov arranged and paid for employees to meet with him in June 2013 at the Paris Air Show in Le-Bourget, France, and in 2014 in Milan, Italy, to discuss and revise the technical report.
Conspiring to and attempting to steal trade secrets is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Benjamin C. Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the FBI and the cooperation of GE Aviation, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy S. Mangan and Trial Attorney Will Mackie of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, who are prosecuting the case.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division assisted in the investigation.
A criminal complaint merely contains allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.