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Chinese steel firm blamed for hacking DuPont trade secrets


(Reuters) — A Chinese steel manufacturer faces renewed U.S. criminal charges over allegations that it arranged to improperly obtain confidential trade secrets from DuPont and got access to hacked information from the U.S. company's computers.

The indictment against Pangang Group, which was made public on Thursday in San Francisco federal court, alleges economic espionage conspiracy and attempted economic espionage.

The Chinese company was first charged by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2012. However, that indictment stalled after a U.S. judge ruled that prosecutors' attempts to notify the company of the charges were legally insufficient.

Attorneys for the Pangang Group could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

As part of the Pangang case, California businessman Walter Liew was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2014 for stealing DuPont trade secrets to help Pangang develop a white pigment used in a wide range of products.

The new indictment unveiled on Thursday says a Pangang engineer in 2011 brought documents from China into the United States that contained "information obtained through unauthorized access to DuPont computers."

Pangang and unknown computer hackers worked in parallel with Liew to obtain DuPont's trade secrets, the indictment alleged.

In a statement, DuPont said it appreciates the U.S. Department of Justice's efforts.

"We continue to strengthen our controls on cyber security threats, and will continue to take aggressive steps to protect our intellectual property," the company said.

The United States has identified industrial spying as a significant threat to the country's prosperity.

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