Chinese man pleads innocent in seed corn theft

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One of the six Chinese men charged with conspiring to steal patented seed corn from Monsanto and Pioneer Hybrid appeared in a federal court in Des Moines last Thursday. Mo Hailong, also known as Robert Mo, pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal trade secrets and will be held in custody while he awaits trial.

Judge Ross Walters set a trial date for March 31, but it is likely to be delayed as lawyers often file motions to delay the case.

A lawyer from Beijing has filed papers requesting to represent Mo. Xian Wang needs court approval to practice in Iowa since he’s not a member of that state’s bar, but he is a member of the bar in New York and of the Supreme Court of the state of New York.

Mo is one of six men charged by federal prosecutors in Des Moines, Iowa. It has been alleged that the men were hiding the seed they stole in a storage unit near Des Moines and were taking it to a farm in Monee, Ill., where it was purchased by Kings Nower Seed in March 2012. Kings Nower is a subsidiary of Beijing-based conglomerate DBN Group.

The other men charged live in China, but China has not extradition treaty with the U.S. However, one man, Wang Hongwei, is a dual citizen of China and Canada. Now, Wang is being sought for arrest.

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