U.S. accuses Chinese spies of trying to bribe a government employee with bitcoins to steal “secret” documents

The defendants paid the government employee, who is actually a double agent, about $61,000 in bitcoins for the theft of the information, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Suspected Chinese spies charged with stealing secret documents

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the opening of a criminal complaint Monday, charging two Chinese intelligence officers in a scheme to bribe a U.S. government employee and steal documents “secrets“. The defendants are still at large.

Guochun He (a.k.a. Dong He and Jacky He) and Zheng Wang (a.k.a. Zen Wang) allegedly orchestrated a scheme to steal internal files and other non-public information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The information relates to the ongoing investigation and prosecution of a global telecommunications company based in China. According to the court documents, the company is Chinese technology giant Huawei.

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Guochun He and Zheng Wang are charged with attempting to obstruct the criminal prosecution of Company-1 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York“, describes the DOJ, which adds:

Defendant He is also charged with two counts of money laundering based on bribe payments totaling approximately $61,000 in bitcoins made through the scheme.

The project to steal secret U.S. documents

The DOJ explained that, as of 2019, the two Chinese intelligence officers asked an employee of a U.S. government law enforcement agency (GE-1) to steal confidential information about criminal proceedings against GE-1.

He and Wang believed that the U.S. government employee had been recruited to work for China. However, the employee was actually a double agent working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

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Defendants instructed GE-1 to report on the meetings GE-1 was supposed to have with prosecutors. In October 2021, GE-1 used an encrypted messaging program to send the defendants a single page of a purported internal strategy memorandum regarding the Company-1 matter. The DOJ noted:

The document appeared to be classified “SECRET” and discuss a plan to indict and arrest two current Company-1 employees living in the PRC.

GE-1 received approximately $41,000 in bitcoins for the theft of this document.

Defendant further advised GE-1 that the company would be interested in GE-1 stealing another portion of the strategic memorandum. He made an additional payment to GE-1 of $20,000 in bitcoins this month for this information. The DOJ detailed:

If convicted, Guochun He faces up to 60 years in prison and Wang faces up to 20 years in prison.

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