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FBI drops hammer on AMD employee charged with stealing Intel documents

Four more counts for alleged Chipzilla double-cross

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A former Intel engineer is getting slapped with additional charges for allegedly stealing sensitive documents from the chip maker after secretly jumping ship to AMD.

Biswamohan Pani, 33, was indicted Wednesday on four new counts of wire fraud following his initial charge for stealing trade secrets in September.

The FBI claims Pani, an ex-design engineer for Intel's Itanium chips, stole eight sensitive documents from Intel's Massachusetts facility while burning away his accrued vacation after resigning.

He allegedly told managers he was leaving Intel because a hedge fund "showed some interest" in letting him handle their "multi-million $ accounts" and might "dabble in that for a few months." But in reality, Pani had already been offered a job at AMD months earlier and had agreed to start there just four days after his resignation, court documents claim.

Pani spent his remaining days at Intel using vacation time away from the office, only returning for his last day.

While on vacation and on the payroll of both AMD and Intel, prosecutors claim Pani used his Intel-issued laptop to access the company's computer network and download sensitive documents.

Intel said it didn't immediately terminate Pani's access to the company's facilities because it didn't know he was working for a competitor.

Pani returned to the office for his final day to attend an exit interview. Allegedly only then did he admit he was joining AMD. He also reaffirmed his confidentiality obligations and told managers he had returned all Intel property, prosecutors claim.

Because the Intel documents were encrypted and required special steps to review after being disconnected from Intel's system, Pani then allegedly tried to get into the network a final time two days later. Using a secretly-made copy of his Intel laptop, he was able to get past the first login step but couldn't go further.

Pani told detectives he had taken the documents out of curiosity, according to the original FBI complaint.

"AMD is cooperating fully in the FBI investigation into this matter," said AMD spokesman Michael Silverman. "AMD has not been 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."

Pani faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted for theft of trade secrets and 20 years on each his four counts of wire fraud.

A copy of the indictment is available here. ®

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