Worker Gets 7 Years for Global Espionage

Thursday, December 29, 2011 @ 03:12 PM gHale

An ex-Dow AgroSciences LLC researcher convicted of stealing trade secrets from his former employer to benefit a Chinese university got seven years and three months in prison, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence sentenced Kexue Huang, 46, in Indianapolis earlier this week.

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“The United States Attorney’s Office takes seriously its obligation to protect (Indiana) Hoosier businesses from economic espionage,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett in the statement.

Huang, a Chinese national, pleaded guilty in October to economic espionage. He also admitted to stealing trade secrets from the Minneapolis-based grain distributor Cargill Inc., the U.S. Justice Department said in October. Financial losses exceeded $7 million, Hogsett said.

It’s the first such prosecution in Indiana under a provision of the Economic Espionage Act that bans trade-secret theft to benefit a component of a foreign government, the government said. Eight such cases have been brought since the law came about in 1996, Hogsett office said.

Huang has been in federal custody since he was indicted and will begin serving his sentence immediately, said Tim Horty, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Indianapolis. The government will seek to deport him after his sentence, Horty said.

Huang worked for the Indianapolis-based unit of Midland, MI-based Dow Chemical Co., where he researched the development of organically derived pesticides, from 2003 to 2008.

While at Dow, he shared confidential information with at least two people, one of whom conducted research first at the Hunan Normal University in China and later in Dresden, Germany, according to a plea agreement, which didn’t name the people.

In 2008 Huang went to work for Cargill as a biotechnologist. He admitted that while at Cargill he stole one of the company’s trade secrets — a key component in the making of a new food product — which he gave to a student at Hunan Normal University, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

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