US charges Chinese national with stealing trade secrets

WASHINGTON: A Chinese national who worked for Monsanto before it was purchased by Bayer AG was charged in St Louis, Missouri, yesterday with stealing trade secrets for China, the US Justice Department said.

Haitao Xiang, 42, an employee of Monsanto and its Climate Corp subsidiary from 2008 to 2017, was stopped by federal officials at a US airport before he could board a flight to China carrying proprietary farming software, the department said in a statement.

“The indictment alleges another example of the Chinese government using Talent Plans to encourage employees to steal intellectual property from their US employers,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said.

China announced in 2008 its “Thousand Talents Plan” to recruit scientific researchers, which authorities in Washington have called a threat to US national security.

“Xiang promoted himself to the Chinese government based on his experience at Monsanto,” Demers said.

“Within a year of being selected as a Talent Plan recruit, he quit his job, bought a one-way ticket to China, and was caught at the airport with a copy of the company’s proprietary algorithm before he could spirit it away,” he said.

Xiang’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bayer completed its takeover of Monsanto in June 2018.