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Policy

China Tied To Trade Secret Theft

Intellectual Property: Prosecutors charge that DuPont’s titanium dioxide technology was stolen at behest of government officials

by Marc S. Reisch
February 3, 2012

WHITE GOLD
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Credit: DuPont
Titanium dioxide is a fine white powder used in paint, papermaking and toothpaste.
20120203lnp1-DuPontTiPure.jpg
Credit: DuPont
Titanium dioxide is a fine white powder used in paint, papermaking and toothpaste.

Federal prosecutors charged last week that Chinese government officials played a role in the theft from Dupont of technology to manufacture the paint pigment titanium dioxide.

According to a document filed on Jan. 31 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Federal Bureau of Investigation officials obtained letters in a search of the home of Walter Liew. The letters show that Liew “was tasked by representatives of the People’s Republic of China government to obtain technology used to build chloride-route titanium dioxide factories,” prosecutors say.

A memorandum allegedly written by Liew and obtained in the search claims that Liew was a guest at a 1991 banquet in his honor hosted by Luo Gan, a high-ranking official of the Communist Party. “At that time Secretary General Luo Gan gave directives, so that I would better understand China and continue to make contributions to her. Two days later I was given a list of key task projects by the appropriate Chinese agency. Titanium white by chlorination was one of the more important projects,” Liew wrote, according to prosecutors.

The search took place in July 2011 after DuPont filed a civil complaint in April against Liew and his California-based company, USA Performance Technology. Federal prosecutors revealed details of the FBI search as they sought to convince the judge in the case to deny Liew’s release from federal custody on $150,000 bail.

DuPont’s complaint alleged that Liew and others he employed embezzled technology from DuPont’s newest and most up-to-date TiO2 facility in Kuan Yin, Taiwan. Liew then sold the technology to a Chinese competitor. In August, federal prosecutors indicted Liew on charges of witness and evidence tampering and making false statements.

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