A Hamilton man has been arrested after the RCMP discovered an alleged plot to sell classified information to China on Canada's plans to build warships and icebreakers.
At a news conference in Toronto on Sunday, authorities announced they had arrested 53-year-old Qing Quentin Huang, in Burlington, Ont., on Saturday and charged him under the Security of Information Act.
"In these types of cases, sharing of information may give a foreign entity a tactical, military or competitive advantage by knowing the specifications of vessels," said Jennifer Strachan, Chief Supt. RCMP criminal operations Ontario.
Huang, from Waterdown, Ont., is charged under the Security of Information Act with two counts of attempting to communicate classified information to a foreign entity.
The information involved elements of Canada's Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, Strachan said. The strategy involves plans to build patrol ships, frigates, naval auxiliary vessels, science research vessels and icebreakers.
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The suspect was arrested Saturday in Burlington and appeared in court Sunday. He'll be held in custody until a bail hearing on Wednesday.
Authorities say Huang acted alone and is not believed to have been state-sponsored. He works as an engineer Lloyd's Register Canada Ltd., a company that is sub-contracted by Irving Shipbuilding, the country's largest shipbuilder.
Police first learned of the situation on Thursday and were able to act swiftly to safeguard the information involved, Strachan said.
"We are confident our prompt and firm intervention has limited the damage to our collective safety and security," Strachan said.
A spokesman from the Prime Minster's Office commended the RCMP and the other agencies involved for their work. "This arrest demonstrates the importance of collaboration among security partners for the protection of Canada's national interest," Jason MacDonald said in a statement.
Huang is set to appear in court Wednesday for a bail hearing. He faces two counts related to communicating with a foreign entity, which officials said could carry a sentence of life in prison.
Employer assessing designs for arctic patrol vessels
Huang had worked for Lloyd’s Register’s Burlington office since 2006, according to a statement released by the UK-based company.
'Mr. Huang is being suspended forthwith without pay until the matter is fully investigated and resolved,”—Mark Stokes, Lloyd's Register
Lloyd’s Register is one of several firms working on Canada’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. In particular, the company is assessing vessel designs for the federal government's Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) program.
“Mr. Huang did not have security clearance and was therefore not involved in any approvals of AOPS and did not have direct access to information on AOPS,” said Lloyd’s Register spokesman Mark Stokes.
“Mr. Huang is being suspended forthwith without pay until the matter is fully investigated and resolved,” he added.
“We are doing everything we can to assist the RCMP with their investigation and at this stage can offer no further comments or facts until we know more ourselves.”