In most countries, acts like murder, treason, or plotting to overthrow the government rank among the most heinous crimes a person can commit. In Italy, stealing secrets from Ferrari ranks right up near the top of the list, too.

Following a long, drawn out process, two former Scuderia Ferrari engineers, who stood accused of stealing secrets from Maranello and giving them to rivals at Toyota F1, have been convicted. Pending appeal, Angelo Santini was sentenced to nine months and Mauro Iacconi to 16 behind bars on charges of industrial espionage.

Back at the start of the 2003 season, Toyota built a wind-tunnel down the road from Ferrari in Sant'Agata Bolognese, near the Lamborghini factory. Naturally the project recruited the talents of many former Ferrari engineers, but when the season kicked off, Toyota's car looked suspiciously like Ferrari's. Complaints were filed in Italy and in Germany, and the case against Santini and Iacconi went to court a year ago. Toyota's former team principal, chief designer and chief aerodynamicist were all charged in Germany, where the case against them is pending prosecution.

It seems that Toyota will stop at nothing to catch up to Ferrari, and when hiring a Schumacher didn't work, less legal means were employed.

[Source: GrandPrix.com]