US court declares Chinese spy guilty of stealing secrets

COURT

The U.S. Justice Department has reported that a Chinese national, Xiang Haitao, 44, was sentenced to 29 months in prison after pleading guilty in January to conspiring to steal trade secrets from agricultural company Monsanto.

Xiang, who was employed by Monsanto and a subsidiary from 2008 to 2017, pleaded guilty in Missouri federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, and was sentenced to 29 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $150,000 fine, the Justice Department stated.

“Xiang conspired to steal an important trade secret to gain an unfair advantage for himself and the People’s Republic of China,” said Assistant Attorney-General Matthew Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

“Economic espionage is a serious offense that can threaten U.S. companies’ competitive advantage, and the National Security Division is committed to holding accountable anyone who steals trade secrets to benefit a foreign government,” he added.

Xiang was found guilty by federal officials for being in possession of copies of a proprietary predictive algorithm developed by Monsanto. He was arrested as he was waiting to board a flight to China in June 2017, the Justice Department said.

Xiang was allowed to fly to China, where he worked for the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Soil Science, but was arrested when he returned to the U.S. in November 2019, the Justice Department added.