"The Air Force on Thursday banned Boeing Co. from future satellite-launching contracts to punish the company for stealing sensitive information from a competitor," according to the Associated Press"The Air Force also took away seven military satellite launches from Boeing and gave them to competitor Lockheed Martin Corp. -- a shift which represented about $1 billion worth of business, said Air Force undersecretary Peter Teets."Boeing employees are accused of pilfering about 25,000 pages of sensitive Lockheed documents during the 1998 bidding process for the 1998 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle contract."The Department of Defense did not take the more aggressive step of banning it from government contracts in other areas," The Financial Times notes. "Such a move would have been devastating for Boeing, which now derives more than half its revenues from defence activities."In addition, former Boeing executives Kenneth Branch and William Erskine have been charged with conspiracy, theft of trade secrets and violating federal procurement laws in federal court in Los Angeles, the Associated Press says.AFP reports that the pair are each facing up to 10 years in prison, and a fine of a quarter-million dollars.

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