Lopez was the head of General Motors’ Global Purchasing division when he defected for GM competitor VW to head that company’s purchasing operation in 1993. According to a lawsuit filed by GM, Lopez and other company executives brought with them more than two million pages of top-secret GM documents, which they had culled in the months leading up to their departure. The documents included business plans, automobile designs and factory blueprints. By 1996, VW had opened its first factory that, GM claims, was built using the pilfered plans. Lopez was eventually forced to resign his position at VW and the company settled the case in January, 1997. VW, while denying any wrongdoing, agreed to pay GM $100 million and commit to purchase another $1 billion in parts from the company. A federal grand jury in Detroit indicted Lopez in May, 2000, on six counts including wire fraud and the interstate transportation of stolen property. The former executive, who resides in Spain, has yet to face those charges, however. Spain has refused U.S. requests to extradite him.
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