Ex-Intel employee pleads guilty to theft charges

SAN FRANCISCO Sat Apr 7, 2012 4:50am IST

An Intel logo is seen at the company's offices in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv October 24, 2011. REUTERS/Nir Elias/Files

An Intel logo is seen at the company's offices in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv October 24, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Nir Elias/Files

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A former Intel Corp (INTC.O) employee who allegedly stole from the chipmaker documents worth hundreds of millions of dollars pleaded guilty on Friday to five counts of wire fraud.

Federal prosecutors in Boston had alleged that Biswamohan Pani, 36, downloaded some of Intel's "most valuable" design and manufacturing documents in June 2008, in his final days as an engineer in a Massachusetts facility.

Intel was not aware at the time of the alleged downloads that Pani had already sought a position and begun working at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD.N), Intel's largest rival in the chip industry.

Pani acted alone and there was no evidence that he was instructed by AMD to carry out the theft - nor was AMD aware of his actions, prosecutors said. In court filings, Intel estimated the company secrets to be worth at least $200 million to $400 million.

AMD fired Pani in 2008.

"AMD was not accused of wrongdoing, and the FBI has stated that there is no evidence that AMD had any involvement in or awareness of Mr. Pani's alleged actions," said Drew Prairie, a spokesman for AMD.

Pani faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 8.

A lawyer for Pani did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Friday.

(Reporting By Gerry Shih; Editing by Richard Chang)

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