In a news release, the RCMP alleges that 35-year-old Yuesheng Wang of Candiac, Que., obtained the information to benefit China at “the detriment of Canada’s economic interests” while working at the provincial hydro company.
The RCMP states it began looking into the employee’s activities in August 2022, following a complaint from the public utility provider’s corporate security branch, and alleged that Wang conducted research for Chinese universities and filed patents based on the results that undermined Hydro-Quebec intellectual property.
Wang is facing several charges under the Security of Information Act and the Criminal Code of Canada including: obtaining trade secrets, unauthorized use of computer, fraud for obtaining trade secrets and breach of trust by a public officer.
Wang was allegedly able to access the information through the course of his duties, according to the RCMP.
He is expected to appear in the Longueuil, Que., courthouse on Tuesday.
“I would like to emphasize that throughout the investigation, the RCMP received Hydro-Quebec’s full cooperation. This cooperation is essential to curb activities by foreign actors that threaten the integrity of our infrastructures and Canadian interests,” said Insp. David Beaudoin, who heads the RCMP’s integrated national security enforcement team.
“I must stress that information sharing and cooperation with the RCMP are paramount to our ability to investigate these illegal activities, which can ultimately lead to criminal charges.”
In a statement, Hydro-Quebec said Wang was a researcher who worked on battery materials with the Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage. The utility said its security team launched its own investigation before quickly flagging authorities.
“Our detection and intervention mechanisms allowed our investigators to bring this matter to the attention of the RCMP, with whom we have worked closely ever since,” said Dominic Roy, senior director responsible for corporate security.
“No organization is safe from a situation like this one, which is why we must always remain vigilant and transparent, and we must not tolerate violations of the company’s code of ethics.”
The former employee did not have access to information related to Hydro-Quebec’s “core mission,” and his accesses were revoked when suspicions arose, the company added. It said the centre where he worked develops technology for electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
RCMP said foreign interference has emerged as a priority for law enforcement, adding that it is working with at-risk sectors to improve Canada’s response and resiliency.
“We are more and more active in that sphere because we do believe that it is a subject that directly affects national security,” Beaudoin said.
“Because of our increased involvement, we are looking at the many more files than we used to in the past, and because of that today we were able to lay the criminal charges presented before you.”
— with files from The Canadian Press