Kexue Huang, a Chinese national and a former resident of Carmel, Ind., pleaded guilty to one count of economic espionage to benefit a component of the Chinese government and one count of theft of trade secrets.


Since its enactment in 1996, there have been a total of eight trade secret theft cases nationwide under the Economic Espionage Act, where the intended beneficiary was a component of a foreign government. 


In July 2010, Huang was charged in an indictment filed in the Southern District of Indiana for misappropriating and transporting trade secrets to the People's Republic of China (PRC) while working as a research scientist at Dow AgroSciences LLC.  A separate indictment charged Huang with stealing a trade secret from a second company, Cargill Inc.


From January 2003 until February 2008, Huang was employed as a research scientist at Dow, a leading international agricultural company based in Indianapolis that provides agrochemical and biotechnology products.  In 2005, Huang became a research leader for Dow in strain development related to unique, proprietary organic insecticides marketed worldwide.


As a Dow employee, Huang signed an agreement that outlined his obligations in handling confidential information, including trade secrets, and prohibited him from disclosing any confidential information without Dow's consent. Dow employed several layers of security to preserve and maintain confidentiality and to prevent unauthorized use or disclosure of its trade secrets.                                                   


Huang admitted that during his employment at Dow, he misappropriated several Dow trade secrets.  From 2007 to 2010, Huang transferred and delivered the stolen Dow trade secrets to individuals in Germany and the PRC.  With the assistance of these individuals, Huang used the stolen materials to conduct unauthorized research with the intent to benefit foreign universities that were instrumentalities of the PRC government.  Huang also admitted that he pursued steps to develop and produce the misappropriated Dow trade secrets in the PRC, including identifying manufacturing facilities in the PRC that would allow him to compete directly with Dow in the established organic pesticide market.


After Huang left Dow, he was hired in March 2008 by Cargill, an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services.  Huang worked as a biotechnologist for Cargill until July 2009 and signed a confidentiality agreement promising never to disclose any trade secrets or other confidential information of Cargill.  Huang admitted that during his employment with Cargill, he stole one of the company's trade secrets - a key component in the manufacture of a new food product, which he later disseminated to another person, specifically a student at Hunan Normal University in the PRC.


The aggregated loss from Huang's criminal conduct exceeds $7 million but is less than $20 million. 


At sentencing, Huang faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years on the economic espionage charge and 10 years on the theft of trade secrets charge.