Chinese national admits espionage in US against Dow, Cargill

18 October 2011 20:29  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--A Chinese national has pleaded guilty to stealing technology and trade secrets from Dow AgroSciences and Cargill on behalf of the Beijing government, US federal officials said on Tuesday.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said that Kexue Huang, a Chinese national and a former resident of Carmel, Indiana, pleaded guilty to one count of “economic espionage to benefit a foreign government” and a separate charge of theft of trade secrets.

Although the case against Huang has been in development since July 2010 and perhaps earlier, the plea agreement announced on Tuesday comes in the wake of several anti-China initiatives from the White House and on Capitol Hill aimed at the Beijing government’s trade and espionage policies.

The department said that Huang, who also used the name “John Huang”, has admitted that while employed as a research scientist at Dow AgroSciences in Indianapolis, Indiana, from 2003 to early 2008, he stole Dow trade secrets and delivered them to unnamed individuals in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and in Germany.

“With the assistance of these individuals,” said the department, “Huang used the stolen materials to conduct unauthorised research with the intent to benefit foreign universities that were instrumentalities of the PRC government.”

Huang also admitted that he “pursued steps to develop and produce the misappropriated Dow trade secrets in the PRC, including identifying manufacturing facilities in the PRC that would allow him to compete directly with Dow in the established organic pesticide market”, according to the department’s summary of the case.

During his Dow employment, Huang rose to the position of research leader in strain development for unique and proprietary organic insecticides that Dow markets worldwide, the department noted.

After Huang left Dow, he was hired by Cargill in March 2008 to work as a biotechnologist. In his work at Cargill until July 2009, Huang admitted that he stole technology related to a key component in production of a new food product and passed that information on to Hunan Normal University in China.

According to the department, the total cost to Dow and Cargill from Huang’s espionage is as much as $20m (€14.6m).

Huang faces up to 25 years in federal prison for the combined charges. Sentencing will be at a later unspecified date.

($1 = €0.73)

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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