Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Four Chinese state-owned companies were arraigned in federal court in California on charges of economic espionage, prosecutors announced Friday.
Pangang Group Company, Ltd. and three of its subsidiaries allegedly conspired with Chinese nationals Hou Shengdong and Dong Yingjie to acquire stolen or misappropriated trade secrets involving the production technology for chloride-route titanium dioxide, also known as TiO2, from the DuPont company, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of California said in a statement.
TiO2 is commonly used as a white pigment in paints after the use of lead oxide was banned several years ago, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. It is also used as a pigment in inks, plastics, cosmetics, soap, toothpaste and food.
"DuPont had developed the technology and controlled a significant amount of the world's TiO2 sales," prosecutors said. "The defendants are alleged to have obtained confidential trade secret information including photographs related to TiO2 plant technologies and facilities."
The Pangang companies, along with Hou and Dong, are also accused of paying an Oakland company $27,000,000 between 2006 and 2011 for assistance in obtaining DuPont's trade secrets.
The charges include one count of conspiracy to commit economic espionage and one count of attempted economic espionage, as well as forfeiture of any property gained as a result of the alleged crimes.