U.S., Dow Chemical accuse scientist of foreign trade espionage

Unusual indictment alleges pesticide secrets worth $100M were e-mailed to China

Data leakage of the highest order is at the center of an unfolding story that finds a Massachusetts scientist under indictment for allegedly conveying trade secrets about organic pesticides developed by Dow Chemical to a university in China.

From a story in the Boston Globe:

A federal judge in Worcester is pondering whether to grant bail to a 45-year-old Westborough man who, in a highly unusual case, is accused of economic espionage for allegedly sending trade secrets about insecticides to China.

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Kexue Huang faces a dozen counts of economic espionage to benefit a foreign government or instrumentality, as well as five counts of interstate or foreign transport of stolen property.

Assistant US Attorney Scott Garland said only six or seven people had ever been charged with the crime. He said the value of the information that Huang allegedly passed on exceeded $100 million.

Huang, a Canadian citizen with permanent resident status in this country, has denied the allegations and through his attorney today offered to relinquish his passport, as well as those of his wife and two children, in order to secure bail. He has been in custody since his arrest July 13.

According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette:

The alleged charges, which are still under seal in Indiana where Dow has an agrochemical and biotechnology company, stem from the alleged stealing of information from January 2005 to earlier this year. Mr. Huang worked for Dow from January 2003 and was fired in February 2008, according to authorities.

In testimony today, authorities allege Mr. Huang stole information on the insecticide and co-published research articles about it through the Hunan Normal University in China.

Huang's attorney argued in court today that the publication of the articles made it seem "unusual" that authorities would "allege a larceny scheme."

While this was not mentioned in the news coverage and I don't know if it is related to the case, this research paper from Hunan Normal University was co-authored by a Kexue Huang and published at about the same time that Huang was reportedly fired by Dow Chemical.

Huang is currently employed by Qteros, a biofuels company located in Marlboro, Mass.

According to the Telegram & Gazette story, Huang's wife told a reporter that she fears any newspaper story about her husband's travails will damage his reputation.

Seems that is the least of his worries at the moment.

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