Chinese national pleads guilty to stealing trade secrets: US Justice Dept


Washington [US]): A Chinese national pleaded guilty in a US court to stealing trade secrets from Monsanto agribusiness corporation to benefit Beijing, the Justice Department said in a statement on Thursday (local time).

“Xiang Haitao, 44, a Chinese national formerly residing in Chesterfield, Missouri, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit economic espionage,” the Justice Department said.
“According to court documents, Xiang conspired to steal a trade secret from Monsanto, an international company based in St. Louis, for the purpose of benefitting a foreign government, namely the People’s Republic of China,” it added.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said: “Despite Xiang’s agreements to protect Monsanto’s intellectual property and repeated training on his obligations to do so, Xiang has now admitted that he stole a trade secret from Monsanto, transferred it to a memory card and attempted to take it to the People’s Republic of China for the benefit of Chinese government.”

While US Attorney Sayler Fleming for the Eastern District of Missouri said: “Mr Xiang used his insider status at a major international company to steal valuable trade secrets for use in his native China.”

Xiang, who was then living in the US state of Missouri, was employed by Monsanto and its subsidiary, The Climate Corporation, from 2008 to 2017 as an imaging scientist before quitting his job and buying a one-way ticket to China.

Federal officials searched the Chinese national at a US airport in June 2017 and discovered copies of a Monsanto proprietary algorithm, which is considered a trade secret and intellectual property, in an electronic device as he was waiting to board a flight to China, the release said.

Xiang continued his trip to China where he worked for the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Soil Science, but he was arrested when he returned to the United States, the release said.

Xiang will be sentenced on April 7. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a potential 5 million US dollars fine. (ANI)

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