The boss of the Chinese company that owns Britain’s largest semiconductor factory was handed a jail sentence over allegations he stole trade secrets, it has been revealed.
Zhang Xuezheng, the founder of Wingtech, was sentenced to 17 months in jail and fined in 2005 for buying trade secrets from ZTE, his old employer, The Sunday Telegraph reported citing old local Chinese news sources.
Zhang is also the chief executive of Dutch company Nexperia, a subsidiary of Chinese outfit Wingtech, which was ordered to sell its 86 per cent in British semiconductor firm Newport Wafer Fab in November.
The government made the decision to overturn the £63m takeover citing national security concerns, arguing the firm’s role could “undermine UK capabilities.”
Nexperia is currently challenging the government’s decision in court.
Zhang, according to the reports, recruited staff to acquire ZTE’s tech secrets so his companies could use them to create rival products.
A spokesperson for Nexperia told The Sunday Telegraph that the firm was “aware of old press reports about a dispute in China” but that the matter was “later resolved allowing Zhang to do business freely”.
Nexperia was approached for comment by City A.M.
News of the reported conviction comes at a time of heightened awareness of Chinese investment in UK firms and public infrastructure.
Late last year the government decided to pay around £100m to buy out state-backed China General Nuclear Power Group’s 20 per cent stake in nuclear power station Sizewell C to reduce Beijing’s potential involvement.