A Walnut Creek man and a company he founded were convicted by a federal jury in San Francisco of economic espionage and other charges in a plot to steal Dupont trade secrets for a Chinese government-controlled chemical company. Walter Liew, 56, and his engineering consulting company, USA Performance Technology Inc., of Oakland, were convicted after a seven-week trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White.
The trade secrets concerned technology used by Wilmington, Del.-based E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co, for making a white titanium-dioxide pigment used in paint, plastics and paper. A former DuPont engineer, Robert Maegerle, 78, of Harbeson, Del., was also convicted of conspiracy to steal trade secrets and other charges. Liew’s wife, Christina Liew, who was a co-owner of the consulting company, is also accused of conspiracy and economic espionage and will be given a separate trial.
A former DuPont scientist, Tze Chao, 79, of Newark, Del., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit economic espionage in 2012 and agreed to aid in the prosecution of his co-defendants. The charges Walter Liew was convicted of include conspiracy to steal trade secrets, conspiracy to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to obstruct justice and filing false tax returns, among other counts.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Liew entered into contracts worth more than $20 million to convey the trade secrets to the state-owned Pangang Group Company Ltd. in the People’s Republic of China. She said Walter and Christina Liew received millions of dollars in proceeds from the contracts. Walter Liew, Maegerle and Liew’s company will be sentenced by White on June 10.
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