Law enforcement officials in Taiwan have indicted several HTC employees for falsifying expenses, taking kickbacks from suppliers and leaking company secrets. The company’s former vice president of product design, Thomas Chien, allegedly leaked future smartphone UI designs to others in Beijing with which he planned to start a new business with according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
It is believed that Chien was leaking information about their upcoming user interface, Sense 6.0. Chien and five other HTC employees have also been charged with collectively receiving 33.57 million New Taiwan dollars ($1.12 million) by cheating on expense reports and receiving special kickbacks from HTC suppliers. As such, three people from unidentified suppliers of HTC have also been indicted in the matter.
At the time of the complaint in August, the publication also said HTC research and design director Bill Wu and design team senior manager Justin Huang were among those facing charges. The latest report, however, only lists Chien specifically.
If several high-level HTC executives are mixed up in this, it certainly isn’t good news for the struggling handset maker. It comes at a time when several top executives have already departed due to declining profitability and global market share. HTC was once a global force but increased pressure from Apple, Samsung and others has chipped away at their market share over the years.
If found guilty, the executives could be facing an extended stay behind bars. Leaking company secrets and breach of trust convictions each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.