RCMP arrested a Montreal-area Hydro-Quebec employee on Monday for allegedly spying for the Chinese government.
Yuesheng Wang, 35, of Candiac, Que. will appear in the Longueuil courthouse on Tuesday on four charges: obtaining a trade secret, unauthorized use of a computer, fraud in obtaining a trade secret and breach of trust by a public official. He was arrested on Monday morning.
“Mr. Wang allegedly obtained trade secrets for the benefit of the People’s Republic of China at the expense of Canada’s economic interests,” the RCMP said in a report.
“Foreign actor interference is a priority for many law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world,” the RCMP added. “Hydro-Quebec is considered critical infrastructure and a strategic interest that must be protected.”
A woman who identified herself as Wang’s girlfriend answered the door of his home Monday afternoon but declined to be interviewed by CTV News. Neighbors told CTV Wang was quiet and kept things to himself. They said RCMP officers showed up at his home Monday morning.
Yuesheng Wang. (Source: LinkedIn)
HYDRO-QUEBEC ALERTED RCMP
Hydro-Quebec confirmed the accused had been an employee since 2016, working as a battery materials researcher with the company’s Center of Excellence in Transport Electrification and Energy Storage — also known as CETEES — in the off-island Montreal suburb of Varennes.
Hydro Quebec spokeswoman Caroline Des Rosiers told CTV that Wang’s access to the company’s systems was “completely cut off as soon as we became aware of the first allegations,” which was several months ago.
“This came to light through the vigilance of our teams … at the center of excellence, together with teams from the corporate security team, worked to uncover and ultimately bring this matter to the RCMP, who led the investigation that led to today’s charge,” she said.
“The damage was limited by our strong internal mechanisms and the fact that the issues were identified internally and subsequently brought to the attention of the RCMP.”
Insp. David Beaudoin of the RCMP’s National Security Integrated Enforcement Team. (CTV News)
RCMP said they began investigating Wang last August. Wang allegedly obtained information that he had access to in the course of his duties.
“This investigation is of great importance to us and sends a clear message,” said RCMP Insp. David Beaudoin at a press conference at the RCMP headquarters in Westmount, Quebec. “It shows our commitment and the commitment of our partners to work with risk sectors.”
Beaudoin declined to say whether the accused was paid from China for his alleged actions and would not confirm whether the accused is a Canadian citizen.
Wang did not have access to information related to Hydro-Quebec’s “core mission,” the utility said, adding that his access was revoked when suspicions arose. It said the center where he worked was developing technology for electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
Dominic Roy, senior director responsible for corporate security at Hydro-Québec, said in a press release that “No organization is safe from a situation like this, which is why we must always remain vigilant and transparent and must not tolerate violations of the rules. of the company’s code of ethics.”
The RCMP said foreign interference has become a priority and said it is working with vulnerable sectors to improve Canada’s response and resilience. The Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) conducted the investigation as part of the RCMP’s mandate to detect and disrupt foreign interference.
Wang will remain in custody pending a court appearance on Tuesday.
EXPERT SAYS SPYING ‘BIG PROBLEM’ IN CANADA
The RCMP said at a press conference Monday that it was the first time anyone had been charged with obtaining a trade secret, an offense under section 19 of the Security of Information Act.
While the charge is new to Canadian prosecutors, espionage is nothing new in the country. In fact, one expert said more spying is done in Canada compared to other G7 countries.
That’s because Canada is home to top research centers and is at the forefront of information in several industries, according to Michel Juneau-Katsuya, the former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for Asia and the Pacific.
According to him, Canada loses an average of 100 to 120 billion dollars a year due to economic espionage.
“It’s the marketplace, the contracts and the jobs that we lose right here in Canada when someone steals our intellectual property,” Juneau-Katsuya said in an interview.
“It’s a huge problem.
Michel Juneau-Katsuya is a former senior intelligence officer with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. (CTV News)
Current and past governments at the federal and provincial levels have a greater role to play in warning the private sector about foreign threats, he said, otherwise similar cases will appear with more companies.
“You can be sure that any technology in artificial intelligence, in pharmaceuticals, in aviation – or like Hydro-Quebec, in the battery system, in green industry – will be subject to espionage activities and attempts to steal information either through cyberspace or through a human being, he said.
The private sector should adopt a “new business culture in Canada” to strengthen corporate systems, including renewing secret and top clearances every five years.
With files from CTV News Vanessa Lee and The Canadian Press
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