Former Monsanto Chinese employee pleads guilty to stealing U.S. agricultural-related trade secrets

Translated by: MOS Gospel Team – linli

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Thursday (January 6th) that Xiang Haitao, a former Chinese employee of the U.S. agricultural biotech company Monsanto Co., pleaded guilty to economic espionage.

According to court documents, Xiang Haitao worked for Monsanto and its subsidiary Climate Corporation as an imaging scientist from 2008 to 2017. The company has developed an online agricultural software platform through which farmers can collect, store and visualize key farmland data to increase and improve agricultural productivity. A key component of the platform is the Nutrient Optimizer’s proprietary predictive algorithm, the company’s high-value trade secret and intellectual property.

In June 2017, Xiang Haitao took a flight back to Communist China after resigning. Federal officials at the airport found him carrying a copy of the software and confiscated it on the spot.

According to the relevant introduction on the official website of Nanjing Agricultural University, Xiang Haitao is a researcher and doctoral supervisor of the Nanjing Institute of Soil Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 2008, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In the same year, he joined the internationally renowned agricultural company Monsanto and served for a long time. He has served as a special reviewer for the USDA for a long time, and serves as a guest editor of the journal Advances in Meteorology and an editorial board member of the journal JABE. He has been elected as a member of six academic committees of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. In 2016, he obtained a position in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. After returning to Communist China in 2017, he worked in the Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was selected into the “Hundred Talents Program” of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and founded “Shuxi Technology”, focusing on the digital transformation of agriculture, and then returned to the United States.

Haitao Xiang was arrested at his home in suburban St. Louis in November 2019 and charged with one count of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, three counts of economic espionage, one count of conspiracy to steal trade secrets and three counts of stealing trade secrets. Xiang Haitao admitted that he visited the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2016 with a computer containing Monsanto’s information.

A U.S. court will rule on Xiang Haitao’s commercial espionage case on April 7th. He faces 15 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $5 million.

Proofread by: Saturn

Edited and posted by: Saturn



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