Dow and Cargill Trade Secrets to China
On Dec. 21, 2011, in the Southern District of Indiana, Kexue Huang, a Chinese national and former resident of Indiana, was sentenced to 87 months imprisonment and three years’ supervised release stemming from his plea of guilty on Oct. 18, 2011 to charges of economic espionage to benefit a foreign university tied to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and theft of trade secrets. Huang also pleaded guilty on Sep. 19, 2011 to one count of an indictment filed in the District of Minnesota for stealing a trade secret from a second company, Cargill Inc. Previously, on Jun. 16, 2010, Huang was charged in the Southern District of Indiana with misappropriating and transporting trade secrets to the PRC while working as a research scientist at Dow AgroSciences LLC. On Oct. 18, 2011, a separate indictment in the District of Minnesota charging Huang with stealing a trade secret from company, Cargill Inc., was unsealed. According to court documents, from Jan. 2003 until Feb. 2008, Huang was employed as a research scientist at Dow. In 2005, he became a research leader for Dow in strain development related to unique, proprietary organic insecticides marketed worldwide. Huang admitted that during his employment at Dow, he misappropriated several Dow trade secrets. According to plea documents, from 2007 to 2010, Huang transferred and delivered the stolen Dow trade secrets to individuals in Germany and the PRC. With the assistance of these individuals, Huang used the stolen materials to conduct unauthorized research to benefit foreign universities tied to the PRC. Huang also admitted that he pursued steps to develop and produce the misappropriated Dow trade secrets in the PRC. After Huang left Dow, he was hired in Mar. 2008 by Cargill, an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Huang worked as a biotechnologist for Cargill until Jul. 2009. Huang admitted that during his employment with Cargill, he stole one of the company’s trade secrets – a key component in the manufacture of a new food product, which he later disseminated to another person, specifically a student at Hunan Normal University in the PRC. According to the plea agreement, the aggregated loss from Huang’s conduct exceeds $7 million but is less than $20 million. On Dec. 27, 2011, Huang received a sentence in the District of Minnesota case of 87 months imprisonment and three years, to be served concurrently with the term imposed in the defendant’s case in the Southern District of Indiana. This investigation was conducted by the FBI.