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James Watchorn (Image courtesy of LinkedIn)

An oil worker in New Zealand has been ordered to pay over US$60,000 for taking hundreds of thousands of sensitive files from his then employer Tag Oil.

Canadian James Watchorn copied large amounts of data, much of it confidential and commercially sensitive, before he left the company  in July 2012, the New Zealand Employment Relations Authority (ERA) announced in a decision Tuesday.

The ERA ordered Watchorn to pay US$55,830 in special damages to Tag Oil.

He was also ordered to pay four penalties of US$2,554 each, half to be paid to the company and half to the government.

Watchorn was found guilty earlier this year on three charges relating to the data theft.

Tag Oil brought a separate case to the ERA against Watchorn.

The ERA decision said that after leaving Tag Oil, Watchorn went to work for a direct competitor, New Zealand Energy Corp (NZEC).

Watchorn admitted downloading a large amount data from Tag Oil to his personal hard drive on June 7, 2012.

The next day he flew to Canada on a family vacation.

He claimed he needed access to work documents and templates while on leave.

“Approximately 350,000 documents were captured in the dump of which, by Mr. Watchorn’s own estimate only 1000 would have been templates,” said ERA member Trish MacKinnon.