Espionage Conviction Sends Chemical Engineer To Jail

By Chemical Processing Staff

Jul 14, 2014

Reading like a James Patterson novel, news reports detail Walter Liew's theft of DuPont Co.'s secret recipe for making cars, paper and a long list of everyday items whiter. The California chemical engineer has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $28 million after his economic-espionage conviction. Congress passed the Economic Espionage Act in 1996.

According to ABC News, Liew and his wife, Christina Liew, launched a small California company in the 1990s aimed at exploiting China's desire to build a DuPont-like factory to manufacture the white pigment known as titanium dioxide.

The Liews hired retired DuPont engineers and, according to the FBI, paid them thousands of dollars for sensitive company documents laying out a process to make the pigment.

This isn't the first time chemical engineers have ventured over to a life of crime. In December 2011, a federal judge in Indianapolis sentenced Kexue Huang, a Chinese national and former researcher for Dow AgroSciences and Cargill, to 87 months in prison. You can read more about that in the column "Rapacious Researchers Steal Secrets."

Read the entire ABC News report detailing Liew.