US Court Imposes Maximum Fine on Sinovel

A US court in Wisconsin has sentenced Sinovel Wind Group, a Chinese manufacturer and exporter of wind turbines, for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a US-based company formerly known as American Superconductor Inc.

The court found that AMSC’s losses from the theft exceeded USD 550 million, and imposed the maximum statutory fine in the amount of USD 1.5 million on Sinovel Wind Group LLC.

The parties have settled the restitution and imposed a year of probation until Sinovel pays the full restitution amount.

Sinovel has paid USD 32.5 million to AMSC and will pay USD 25 million within its year of probation. Sinovel will also pay USD 850,000 to additional victims within its year of probation. Sinovel was convicted of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, theft of trade secrets, and wire fraud back in January following an 11-day jury trial in Madison, Wisconsin.

As proven at trial, Sinovel stole proprietary wind turbine technology from AMSC in order to produce its own turbines powered by the stolen intellectual property, a statement issued by the U.S. Justice Department said. AMSC developed the technology – software that regulates the flow of electricity from wind turbines to electrical grids – in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

At the time of the theft in March 2011, Sinovel had contracted with AMSC for more than USD 800 million in products and services to be used for the wind turbines that Sinovel manufactured, sold, and serviced.

According to evidence presented at trial, following the theft, AMSC suffered severe financial hardship. It lost more than USD 1 billion in shareholder equity and almost 700 jobs, over half its global workforce.

Image source: George Hodan under CC0 Public Domain license.

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