A Chinese national who worked at Monsanto has been indicted on economic espionage charges, Reuters reports.
The Justice Department announced Thursday that Haitao Xiang, 42, was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, three counts of economic espionage, one count of conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets and three counts of theft of trade secrets. He was reportedly employed by Monsanto from 2008 to 2017, according to the press release.
Xiang was stopped by federal officials at a U.S. airport, where he was found in possession of an algorithm referred to as the “Nutrient Optimizer,” which was being used by Monsanto as part of their newly developing online farming software program.
If convicted, each espionage charge carries up to 15 years in prison and a $5,000,000 fine. Each theft of trade secrets charges carries up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.