Court records say Monsanto and The Climate Corporation developed a digital online farming software platform to help farmers collect field data to increase productivity.
Part of the platform was an algorithm called the Nutrient Optimizer, which the companies considered a trade secret and their intellectual property, prosecutors said.
In June 2017, the day after leaving employment with the companies, Xiang tried to fly to China. During a search, investigators found one of Xiang’s electronic devices contained copies of the Nutrient Optimizer, prosecutors said.
Xiang flew to China, where he worked for the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Soil Science. He was arrested when he returned to the United States.