A Chinese national arrested in mid-December on allegations of conspiracy to steal trade secrets from the U.S. pleaded not guilty to the crime in a federal court in Des Moines, Iowa, last week.
The defendant, Mo Hailong, also known as Robert Mo, will be tried on March 31. He is one of six other Chinese nationals who were charged on Dec. 17, 2013 for conspiring to steal the trade secrets of several U.S. based seed manufacturing companies between April 2011 and December 2012.
The U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa Nicholas Klinefeldt alleged that Mo, along with the others, were planning to transport the trade secrets to China for the benefit of their China-based seed company, Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Company.
Mo is the Director of International Business for the company, a part of DBN Group. DBN is believed to be a Chinese conglomerate with a corn seed subsidiary company, Kings Nower Seed.
The defendants are alleged to have conspired to steal inbred corn seed specifically from Dupont Pioneer, Monsanto, and LG Seeds, which is considered valuable intellectual property of the respective companies.
The States Attorney says the estimated loss on an inbred line of seed is approximately 5-8 years of research and a minimum of $30 to $40 million.
According to court documents, the men were hiding the seed in a storage unit near Des Moines and eventually taking it to a farm near Monee, Ill., which the FBI said had been purchased by Kings Nower Seed, reports David Pitt of the Associated Press.
The AP noted also that the government is attempting to seize the 40-acre Illinois farm that appears to have served as a Midwest base of operation for the Chinese men, court documents show.
Other men charged in the case include Li Shaoming, CEO of Beijing Kings Nower Seed S&T Co., Ltd.; Wang Lei, Vice Chairman of BKNS; Wang Hongwei, citizen of both Canada and China; Ye Jian, research manager for BKNS; and Lin Yong, employee of BKNS.
Lei, Jian and Yong are residents of China.