Feds say Chinese national stole trade secrets from Dow

By MATEUSZ PERKOWSKI

Capital Press

A research scientist is accused of "economic espionage" for allegedly stealing trade secrets about pesticides from Dow AgroSciences and turning them over to "instrumentalities" of the Chinese government.

The U.S. Justice Department claims Kexue Huang, a 45-year-old Chinese national and lawful permanent resident of the U.S., committed felonies by using confidential information from Dow to direct research at a Chinese university.

Huang has been charged with 12 counts of economic espionage, each of which carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and a $500,000 fine.

He has also been charged with five counts of transporting stolen property, each of which carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine.

Federal authorities initially arrested Huang in July, but the indictment against him was only recently made public by a federal judge. Huang remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

An attorney for Huang said he could not comment on the case beyond the fact his client is pleading not guilty to all charges.

Between January 2005 and December of 2008, Huang transmitted trade secrets to the Hunan Normal University, where he conducted research funded by a Chinese national science foundation, according to the federal indictment.

The confidential information pertained to organic pesticides derived from soil bacteria that disrupt the nervous systems of insect pests, the indictment said.

Huang provided the university with reports about these pesticides, as well as the actual materials used in their production -- despite a confidentiality agreement he signed upon joining Dow in 2003, the indictment said.

During this time, Huang also inquired about manufacturing facilities in China that would allow himself or others to produce the pesticides and compete with Dow, the indictment said.

Federal authorities have filed charges in only six other cases under the Economic Espionage Act since the law was passed in 1996 to protect U.S. intellectual property rights.

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