A 20-page indictment unsealed by the U.S. attorney's office in Indianapolis charged Guoqing Cao and Shuyu "Dan" Li, with stealing nine Lilly trade secrets from 2010 to 2012 and passing them to Chinese drug company Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co., The Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Cao had left Eli Lilly in 2012 and gone to work for Jiangsu when Li emailed him a PowerPoint presentation that contained the Indianapolis company's secrets about a cancer drug in development.
In all, Lilly charges the thefts amounted to a $55 million business hit.
"We are appalled and very disappointed by the crimes allegedly committed by these former Lilly employees," the company said in a statement. "Theft of Lilly's confidential information harms Lilly by depriving the company of the value of its costly research efforts while giving unfair competitive advantage to others."
Li and Cao are both originally from China but moved to America for college. Both obtained a doctorate and U.S. citizenship, the Star said.
Lawyers for the two men at Tuesday's hearing said the information passed on wasn't as valuable as Lilly has made it out to be.
Li's attorney, Scott Newman, said the indictment only offered "vague notions" about the importance of the information -- not the "crown jewels" prosecutors described when evaluating the information passed on.
Both men were being held without bail.
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