Chinese National Sentenced in Agricultural Espionage Conspiracy

A Chinese national formerly residing in Missouri was sentenced to 29 months in prison and a $150,000 fine for conspiring to commit economic espionage. Xiang Haitao pled guilty to the charge in January.  Court documents say Xiang conspired to steal a trade secret from the Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto, to benefit a foreign government. “Xiang conspired to steal an important trade secret to gain an unfair advantage for himself and the Chinese government,” says Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olson of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The victim companies invested significant time and resources to develop this intellectual property.” Olsen also says espionage is a serious offense that can threaten U.S. companies’ competitive advantage. After leaving Monsanto, Xiang attempted to take Monsanto’s computer algorithm called the Nutrient Optimizer on an electronic device back to China. He was arrested and returned to the U.S. in November 2019.

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