Monday, September 26, 2011

"Clean Energy, China-Style: Sex, Cash and Stolen Technology" (AMSC)

For those who say we should emulate the Chinese approach to clean energy I say Damn Straight!
Sinovel was the largest customer of American Superconductor, accounting for up to 90% of AMSC's sales in some quarters. They reneged on a whole bunch of orders, putting American Superconductor at risk of insolvency.It may have been a deliberate attempt to cripple AMSC and steal their technology, above and beyond this software case.
From Forbes:
Sinovel, a leading Chinese wind turbine maker, seduced a troubled software engineer into selling highly-sensitive software code from his employer, Windtec, for subsidized sex and a heap of no-strings-attached cash.

Dejan Karabrasevic, a 38-year-old Serb, was sentenced to one year in jail and two years of probation after admitting before a judge in Klagenfurt, Austria that he had pilfered the data.
Sinovel’s 1.5 megawatt turbines are allegedly using the wind-power electronics software code developed by Windtec, the Austrian subsidiary of Devons, Mass.-based American Superconductor.
Here is how Recharge describes the testimony provided in Austria yesterday:
The court heard claims that Karabrasevic, who was embittered after being demoted from his job as systems integrator to a post in the customer services department, handed over code for €15,000.
Sinovel at one stage offered Karabrasevic a $1.7 million employment contract including car and apartment, it was said, while women also “attempted to convince him to cooperate.”
But pleading guilty to the charge, Karabrasevic described the decision to hand over Windtec’s IP as “the biggest mistake of his life.”
AMSC is pursuing $250 million or more in legal damages from Sinovel resulting from the alleged illegal use of AMSC’s proprietary software code. Karabrasevic’s admission of guilt is likely to advance AMSC’s efforts to recover those alleged damages from Sinovel.
The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times were a bit more subdued with their headlines:
Chinese Turbine Firm Tied to Software Theft

Defendant convicted in Sinovel secrets case
A former employee of American Superconductor was convicted on Friday by an Austrian court for selling commercial secrets to Sinovel, the Chinese turbine maker.
However, the defendant received a relatively mild one-year jail sentence after pleading guilty and fully co-operating with the authorities....MORE at the FT