Chinese man pleads guilty for plot to steal U.S. corn secrets

WASHINGTON A Chinese man charged with conspiracy to steal high-tech U.S. corn seeds pleaded guilty in federal court in Iowa on Wednesday 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, 46, for conspiring to steal corn seeds from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto after DuPont security staff noticed his suspicious activity.

Hailong was employed as director of a Chinese conglomerate that runs a corn seed subsidiary.

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

Hailong 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.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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