Chinese scientist pleads guilty to stealing trade secrets, US Department of Justice report says

A Chinese national has allegedly pleaded guilty in a US court to stealing trade secrets from the agricultural company Monsanto in order to offer Beijing a benefit, according to a statement released by the US Department of Justice. According to the statement, Xiang Haitao, 44, who lived in Chesterfield, Missouri, pleaded guilty to an economic espionage plot. Court records indicated that Xiang planned to steal a trade secret from Monsanto, a global company headquartered in St. Louis, for the benefit of a foreign administration, which is the People’s Republic of China.

Deputy Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice said that despite Xiang’s agreements to protect Monsanto’s intellectual property, Xiang admitted to stealing a trade secret, the have transferred to a memory card and attempted to port it to China. “With his guilty plea, Xiang is now held responsible for this illegal behavior,” Olsen added, according to the US Department of Justice statement.

In addition, US Attorney Sayler Fleming for the Eastern District of Missouri claimed that Xiang Haitao used his insider position at a large international company to acquire important trade secrets for use in his homeland. Fleming said, “We cannot allow U.S. citizens or foreign nationals to transmit sensitive business information to competitors in other countries, and we will continue our vigorous criminal enforcement of economic espionage and trade secrets laws. . “

Federal Agents Discover Duplicates of Xiang Haitao’s Nutrient Optimizer

According to court records, Xiang worked as an imaging scientist for Monsanto Corporation and its subsidiary, The Climate Corporation, between the years 2008 and 2017. It is relevant to mention here that farmers who use an online agricultural software platform Digits are built by Monsanto and The Climate Corporation, which is used to collect, store and visualize crucial agricultural data in the field to boost and improve agricultural production.

In addition, according to the statement, Xiang attempted to travel to China on a one-way plane ticket in June 2017, a day after leaving Monsanto and The Climate Corporation. Federal agents searched Xiang’s person and luggage as he was ready to board his plane. Investigators eventually discovered that one of Xiang’s electronic devices contained duplicate Nutrient Optimizer, which is a trade secret and intellectual property. In addition, Xiang continued to collaborate for the Institute of Soil Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China. When Xiang returned to the United States, he was detained. Xiang will be sentenced on April 7. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 5 million.

(Image: AP / Shutterstock)

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