Joya Williams, 41, an assistant to Coke’s global brand director, is accused of trying to re-ignite the “cola wars” between the two firms, which have historically clashed rancorously over taste tests, sponsorship, secret ingredients and nutrition.
She has been arrested for stealing a phial of a secret new product, along with two accomplices – Ibrahim Dimson, 30, from New York, and Edmund Duhaney, 41, from Georgia, in attempt to sell it for $1.5m (£800,000) to the world’s second biggest cola maker, Pepsi.
But Williams catastrophically misjudged the rivals’ present-day relationship. Pepsi reported her to her bosses, who called in the police. Undercover FBI officers posed as Pepsi executives and pretended to broker a deal which culminated in a red-handed arrest.
Public prosecutor David Nahmias praised Pepsi for doing the right thing: “They did so because trade secrets are important to everybody in the business community. They realise that if their trade secrets are violated, they all suffer, the market suffers and the community suffers.”