An Apple executive pleaded not guilty last night to charges that he took bribes from Asian suppliers in return for inside information.
Paul Devine, a global supply manager at the company, is accused of accepting more than $1m (£639,000) in kickbacks over several years from manufacturers keen to supply accessories for iPhones and iPods. He was arrested last Friday, and appeared in federal court in San Jose in handcuffs yesterday to face 27 charges including money-laundering and wire fraud.
Apple also filed a separate civil lawsuit against Devine last Friday, claiming breach of contract, racketeering and breaching fiduciary duty.
Devine's alleged accomplice, Andrew Ang, used to work for Singapore's Jin Lee Mould Manufacturing.
Apple's success means there is huge competition between suppliers to get their products inside its computers, digital music players and mobile phones.
Prosecutors claim that Devine ran an elaborate scheme where several tech companies paid him for confidential data in the hope of winning contracts from Apple. The indictment accused him of opening bank accounts in his wife's name in order to take in the money, and states that he told his contacts to describe payments as "samples".
One Asian manufacturer has already said that it paid money to Devine, but denied wrongdoing. Cresyn, a South Korean company which makes earphones and headsets, revealed yesterday it hired Devine as a consultant to receive information about consumer trends in the US.
"An Apple manager offered to provide us with business consulting to help us advance into the US market. So we signed a normal consulting contract, which was not illegal," Cresyn said in a statement. It added that it had not received any specific information about future products.
Other companies named in the indictment include Pegatron, which is the manufacturing unit of the netbook PC pioneer Asustek; Singapore's Glocom/Lateral Solutions and Fastening Technologies; and Taiwan's Nishoku Technology.
Devine was remanded in custody and will reappear in court tomorrow, when the judge hearing the case will decide whether to grant bail.
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