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In a rare trade secrets allegation, a 41-year-old former Tag Oil employee has pleaded not guilty to accessing a computer without authorisation.
Susan Hughes QC confirmed her New Plymouth-based client, who now works for rival company New Zealand Energy Corporation, appeared in court on Wednesday.
He will reappear on January 8.
Tag Oil complained to police earlier this year alleging the man had taken trade secrets.
However, instead of being charged under section 230 of the Crimes Act, police have used the less severe section 252.
The man faces a possible prison jail term of up to two years if found guilty of accessing a computer without authorisation.
Tag and NZEC are listed in Canada and the companies operate in Taranaki's fiercely-competitive oil and gas industry.