An ex-PPG chemist who was arrested for selling trade secrets to a Chinese firm has killed himself, but the Justice Department will continue its investigation

The suicide of a former chemist at PPG Industries in Pennsylvania, US, who was arrested and charged with selling trade secrets to a Chinese company on 7 May, has not stopped the investigation into the theft of the company’s technology. Thomas Rukavina, who retired in July 2012 from PPG – a global supplier of paints, coatings, optical products and glass – was accused of disclosing proprietary and confidential information to a glass company in Jiangsu, China that specialises in automotive and speciality glass.

Last month, a federal judge released Rukavina on bail. If convicted, Rukavina faced up to ten years in prison as well as a fine of $250,000. He committed suicide on 5 June, according to David Hickton, the US States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

‘The investigation will continue, and the efforts to protect the intellectual property of American companies, and in fact this country, is a top priority,’ Hickton tells Chemistry Word. The case against Rukavina will be discontinued and his indictment dismissed. Had Rukavina not died, the investigation would have been broadened to include other criminal defendants, Hickton explains.