Ford, FBI probing former engineer over possible espionage

July 25, 2014, 6:25 PM UTC
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The headquarters building of Ford Motor Co. stands in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The FBI is reportedly investigating a now fired Ford (F) engineer, Sharon Leach, who allegedly placed listening devices in meeting rooms at the company’s offices.

A lawyer for the Leach said Ford’s security team was worried she was stealing trade secrets by hiding the secret recording devices in conference rooms at the automaker’s Dearborn, Mich., headquarters.

Leach’s lawyer Marshall Tauber told The Detroit News that the devices weren’t to spy, but rather to record meetings because she “was insecure about her note-taking” during meetings. Leach, who holds a doctorate, has not been charged with a crime.

Susan Krusel, a Ford spokeswoman, told Reuters that the company had “requested the assistance of the FBI” in handing the case.

On July 11, the Detroit News said the FBI found listening devices, computers and financial documents during a search. Ford cooperated with the FBI by handing over the items and information.

The FBI also raided Leach’s home in the suburbs of Detroit on June 20, according to the Detroit newspaper. Leach was an employee at Ford for 17 years.

“As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to provide additional details,” Krusel told Reuters.