Chinese national who worked at Monsanto faces espionage charge

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Authorities say a 42-year-old Chinese national who worked at Monsanto in St. Louis stole important proprietary property and tried to take it to China.

Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that Haitao Xiang, formerly of Chesterfield, was indicted by a federal grand jury on eight charges, including conspiracy to commit economic espionage and three counts of theft of trade secrets.

According to the indictment, Xiang worked at Monsanto and its subsidiary, The Climate Corporation, from 2008 to 2017. He is accused of taking an algorithm called the Nutrient Optimizer that aimed to improve agricultural productivity.

Federal prosecutors said in a news release the day after Xiang quit at Monsanto, he bought a one-way ticket to China. He was arrested before he boarded his flight and investigators confiscated copies of the Nutrient Optimizer.

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