Chinese woman charged with stealing seed corn trade secrets

Mo Yun released on bond in Iowa, closely monitored due to flight risk

A Chinese woman is free on bond after being charged in what federal prosecutors say was a conspiracy to steal trade secrets from U.S. seed corn companies.

Judge Robert Pratt says Mo Yun, 42, is a flight risk but can be closely monitored until trial. Mo was charged in July with conspiring to steal trade secrets. She posted $250,000 bond and must wear a GPS monitor and stay in a home in the Des Moines, Iowa, area between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily. Mo’s travel is restricted to Iowa, although Pratt said the court would consider trips to California to see her children under strict supervision and with prior court approval.

“After carefully reviewing the documents filed in this case so far, the parties’ briefs, and the record made at hearing, the court agrees with Mo Yun that the government’s evidence against her is ‘thin,’ and that nothing about her history or characteristics warrants the imposition of overly restrictive conditions of release,” Pratt wrote.

Links to DBN Group

Mo is one of seven people connected to DBN Group, a Chinese agriculture biotechnology company, who prosecutors say stole patented seed corn from fields in Iowa and Illinois and shipped it to China to try to reproduce its traits, according to a report. Mo’s brother, Mo Hailong, is under house arrest in Des Moines. The five others charged are fugitives. The government says the stolen seed and its intellectual property value is more than $500 million. The charges against Mo carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Mo’s attorney, Terry Bird, said the government’s evidence is based on misinterpreted instant messages between Mo and her brother.

Mo is the wife of Shao Genhou, the chairman of DNB Group whose net worth is estimated at $1.4 million. Pratt agreed with the government’s argument that Mo is a flight risk due to her wealth, Chinese citizenship, lack of ties to the U.S., and the fact that there is no extradition treaty between China and the U.S.

Mo was arrested July 1 at Los Angeles International Airport.