Ex-Intel Worker Takes $300M in Data to AMD

Dennis Faas's picture

An engineer who left his job at Intel has now admitted to stealing design documents worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Bishwamohan Pani, 36, a worker at the company's chip manufacturing facility in Hudson, Massachusetts until 2008, will be sentenced on five counts of fraud.

Pani had been working on Intel's line of Itanium processors, which were designed for use in extremely powerful computers and the servers used in corporate networks. 

Although much-hyped, the processors didn't catch on in the market and were generally considered something of a disappointment.

Vacation Time Perfect for Stealing Files

After giving his notice, Pani was contracted to work at Intel for another 13 days. However, he arranged to apply his remaining vacation time rather than return to work at the facility. 

It appears he didn't tell Intel that he would officially start working for its rival, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), just four days after giving notice and more than a week before he would actually leave Intel's payroll.

During this time, Pani still had access to important Intel documents through a laptop issued to him by Intel. He used this laptop to remotely access thirteen confidential design documents and copy them to an external hard drive. 

These documents turned out to have great commercial value, estimated in the court case to be between $200 million and $400 million. (Source: bloomberg.com)

After returning the laptop at an exit interview on his final day on the Intel payroll, Pani found he was unable to open the stolen documents, which were specially encrypted to stop such viewing. 

He then attempted to regain access to Intel servers, which triggered the process that led to his arrest and trial.

AMD Judged to Have No Involvement

Prosecutors said Pani took the documents with the intention of making himself more attractive to other employers in the processor industry. AMD made clear it did not ask Pani to steal the documents, did not receive the documents from him, and was never even aware he had stolen them.

In theory, Pani could be jailed for up to 20 years for each of the five counts relating to the theft. However, prosecutors have recommended he receive a six-year sentence. 

This recommendation appears to be part of a plea bargain, and reflects the fact there's no proof Pani actually passed on the documents to anyone else. (Source: itworld.com)

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