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Taiwan chipmaker UMC pleads guilty to trade secret theft, fined US$60m

[WASHINGTON] United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) on Wednesday said it has pleaded guilty to trade secret theft in the United States, will pay a US$60 million fine, and will cooperate with the prosecution of China's Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co.

The plea comes over two years since the US Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted the Taiwanese contract chipmaker, Fujian and three individuals for conspiracy to steal, possess and convey trade secrets of US peer Micron Technology.

The United States alleges state-owned Fujian used those secrets in its memory chip designs. Fujian has previously denied wrongdoing.

UMC said it pleaded guilty to one count of receiving and possessing a stolen trade secret, but did not transfer Micron secrets or any unauthorised third-party information to Fujian.

As part of a plea deal, UMC said the DOJ would dismiss allegations including conspiracy to commit economic espionage, as well as a related civil case. The Taiwanese firm will also be subject to a three-year term of "non-supervised probation".

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"Aside from the fine amount, UMC has no further financial obligations to DOJ," the chipmaker said.


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