Photo/Illutration Osaka prefectural police headquarters in Osaka’s Chuo Ward (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

OSAKA--A former employee of a major Japanese chemical firm is suspected of leaking confidential information about liquid crystal technology used in smartphones to a Chinese company, police said on Oct. 14.

Osaka prefectural police said it sent papers to prosecutors on Oct. 13 on an alleged violation of the Unfair Competition Prevention Law against a 45-year-old male resident of the city’s Yodogawa Ward who worked at Sekisui Chemical Co.

A Chinese company official contacted the man after learning that he was an engineer of the Osaka-based company through his social media profile. The official proposed exchanging information with the man after inviting him to China several times.

The former employee is accused of leaking information about the manufacturing process of conductive particles, which are used in smartphone touch panels, according to the foreign affairs division of Osaka prefectural police.

Police suspect the man unlawfully obtained the information, which is a trade secret, from Sekisui Chemical’s servers during the period between August 2018 and January 2019, when he was still an employee there. They believe he sent the data twice to the Chinese company official through his private email account.

The man is reportedly admitting to the charges.

The man listed his full name and his company name on LinkedIn, a social networking service for businesspeople, and described himself as an engineer involved in studying conductive particles.

The Chinese company official apparently contacted him under the guise of asking him to provide technical guidance and also shouldered his expenses for his trips to China.

The man reportedly told police that he accepted the information exchange deal because he thought he could improve his standing as an engineer by using information about technology that the Chinese company official offered to provide, which Sekisui Chemical did not have.

However, he failed to obtain the promised information from the official. His alleged misconduct came to light in an in-house investigation after his colleague raised suspicion.

Sekisui Chemical dismissed the man for leaking the information in May 2019 and reported the case to Osaka prefectural police in September the same year.

“We will do our utmost to prevent a recurrence by ensuring our information management and employee training are thoroughly conducted,” the company said in a statement.