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Court sentences U.S. businessman to 15 years in DuPont espionage case

A San Francisco federal court has sentenced U.S. businessman Walter Liew to 15 years in prison for stealing trade secrets from chemical giant DuPont and then selling them to a state-owned Chinese company.

Liew’s sentence, which was first reported Thursday by Reuters, comes four months after he was convicted of more than 20 criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit economic espionage and trade secret theft, by a federal jury. Liew was found guilty of paying former DuPont (DD) employees – including engineer Robert Maegerle, who was also convicted earlier this year – to provide the company’s trade secrets, which Liew then used to help the Chinese company Pangang Group develop the white pigment chloride-route titanium dioxide. The pigment can be used in a range of products, from paper to paint to plastic.

Liew’s sentence also includes a $28 million fine to cover the amount Liew and his company, USA Performance Technology, received from Pangang.

At the time of Liew’s conviction, in March, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said that combatting economic espionage is a top government priority, adding that “foreign governments threaten our economic and national security by engaging in aggressive and determined efforts to steal U.S. intellectual property.”