Asian companies negotiating contracts with Apple allegedly paid more than $1m in kickbacks to an Apple manager in exchange for confidential information about what Cupertino would be buying.
That's according to a suit filed by Apple against Paul Shin Devine, until now a global supply manager at Apple. The suit follows his indictment for wire fraud and money laundering, among other things, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News. Devine was allegedly paid the money in exchange for information about the iPhone and iPod, which gave the companies the upper hand in negotiations with Apple.
We don't know exactly what that information was - the court filing doesn't include it - but those said to have paid for it obviously thought it was worth the money. Negotiators would be keen to know information about upcoming models, competing bids and how much Apple expected to pay for items. Such information would be extremely valuable on the negotiating table.
The Wall Street Journal names three of the companies involved as Kaedar Electronics Co, Cresyn Co and Jin Li Mould Manufacturing Pte, of China, South Korea and Singapore respectively.
The source of the money allegedly was obfuscated with the aid of one Andrew Ang, who is named in the indictment as a confederate of Devine and used to work for Jin Li. According to the filing Ang and Devine worked together to route money around the world in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to hide its source. Devine is now in the custody of the US Marshals Service, while Ang's location isn't known.
Bloomberg got a statement out of Cresyn Co explaining that the company had paid an Apple employee for consultancy services, but that this was "limited to the trends in the US market" and that the firm "neither requested nor received any information regarding technologies".
Even if true it's still dodgy ground for an Apple employee to be freelancing in that capacity, and Apple certainly doesn't seem to think the argument holds water, as evidenced by Cupertino filing its own suit directly against Paul Devine for that $1m. ®