Man admits to plot to steal U.S. corn secrets

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Reuters) — A Chinese man charged with conspiracy to steal high-tech U.S. corn seeds pleaded guilty in federal court in Iowa Jan. 27 for participating in the theft of the patented seeds with the intention of transporting them to China, court documents show.

Federal authorities began investigating Mo Hailong for conspiring to steal corn seeds from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto after Du-Pont security staff noticed his suspicious activity.

Mo was employed as director of international business for the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co. Ltd. It is part of Da Bei Nong Group, which runs businesses covering seeds, animal feed and livestock.

Company spokesperson Chen Zhongheng said he had not been informed about the situation.

Mo’s sister, Mo Yun, who was charged with trying to steal patented U.S. seeds in July 2014, is married to the founder and chair of the Chinese conglomerate.

Mo will be sentenced at a later date. As part of his plea agreement, he will not be sentenced to more than five years in prison.

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