Following a two-year investigation, a Chinese national on Thursday was arrested for conspiracy to steal trade secrets from the U.S., specifically parent lines of seed corn from at least two American seed companies.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa Nicholas Klinefeldt announced the arrest of the suspect, Mo Hailong, also known as Robert Mo last week. Klinefeldt alleged that between September 2011 and October 2012, Mo and other individuals conspired to steal trade secrets and transport those trade secrets to China for the benefit of their China-based seed company.
The parent lines Mo allegedly stole are valuable intellectual property of the producers.
Dupont Pioneer, which first alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the suspicious activity in a test plot, is cooperating with the investigation. Klinefeldt said Monsanto is also cooperating with authorities.
Hailong, a Chinese national who became a Lawful Permanent Resident in the U.S., is employed as the Director of International Business of the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Company, which is part of DBN Group.
DBN Group is believed to be a Chinese conglomerate with a corn seed subsidiary company, Kings Nower Seed, the States Attorney said.
Kansas company also targeted
In a separate case also announced Thursday, two agricultural scientists from China have been charged with trying to steal samples of a variety of seeds from a biopharmaceutical company's research facility in Kansas.
Weiqiang Zhang, 47, Manhattan, Kan., and Wengui Yan, 63, Stuttgart, Ark., are each charged with one count of conspiracy to steal trade secrets.
Though the company in question has not been named, a statement from U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas Barry Grissom indicated that the company has invested approximately $75 million in patented technology "to create a variety of seeds containing recombinant proteins."