TURKU, Finland — An appeals court in Turku has confirmed the convictions of 10 former employees of Nokian Tyres P.L.C. accused of stealing Nokian business secrets to set up their own tire consulting firm.
Eight of the 10 defendants, now all employees of Black Donuts Engineering Oy, received terms of imprisonment in the long-running case, according to Nokian.
Two of the defendants previously received non-appealable sentences in the case, and the company was fined, the tire maker said.
Black Donuts said the appeals court reduced both the fines and the punishments against its team members.
"This means there will be no significant impact on the current financial position, as the previously given fines had already been substantially paid from trading cash flows," the company said.
The case began with a criminal complaint in 2011 before the district court of Pirkanmaa, Finland.
Nokian accused the 10 former employees of stealing tens of thousands of records containing Nokian's business secrets relating to factory technology, product development and other issues. They used the records to establish their own competing operations, Nokian alleged.
On Aug. 31, 2017, the Pirkanmaa court handed down to Black Donuts a fine of $353,000; $632,350 in crime forfeitures to the state; and $705,000 in legal fees to Nokian. The managing director of Black Donuts and two other employees were sentenced to prison terms of three to five years.
Neither Nokian nor Black Donuts said by how much the fines and prison sentences were reduced.
"We are happy that a decision has been reached and all defendants have been convicted," Nokian President and CEO Hille Korhonen said.
Black Donuts also said it was glad the case had been concluded.
"We welcome and respect the additional clarity provided by the Appeal Court's decision today," the company said. "This case has proven to be an unwelcome distraction for (Black Donuts) and our employees, not only for those personally involved in the legal process."