Kolon Industries Inc., a South Korean company, “pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal trade secrets involving E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co.’s (DuPont) Kevlar technology”, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said on April 30.
The federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, sentenced Kolon to pay US$85 million in criminal fines, DOJ said.
Kolon said that it will pay US$275 million to Dupont in restitution, Kolon said.
“In February 2009, DuPont filed a civil lawsuit against Kolon in the Eastern District of Virginia, alleging theft of trade secrets,” the DOJ said.
“Kolon admitted that it was attempting to improve the quality of its own para-aramid fiber known as Heracron,” the DOJ further said.
Kolon admitted that it obtained technical and business documents regarding Kevlar, including instructional materials that described DuPont’s “New Fiber Technology,” documents on polymerization, and a detailed breakdown of DuPont’s capabilities and costs for the full line of its Kevlar products and DuPont’s Kevlar customers, according to the DOJ.
The statement of facts, filed with the plea agreement, shows that “from June 2006 to February 2009, Kolon conspired with former DuPont employees and others to steal DuPont’s trade secrets for making Kevlar, a high-strength, para-aramid synthetic fiber,” the DOJ said.
“Kolon personnel met repeatedly with former DuPont employees, including Edward Schulz, 72, of Brownstown, Pennsylvania, and Michael Mitchell, 58, of Chesterfield, Virginia, to obtain confidential and proprietary DuPont information about Kevlar,” the DOJ said.
“Schulz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal trade secrets in Sept. 2014 and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 26, 2015. Mitchell pleaded guilty to theft of trade secrets and obstruction of justice in December 2009 and was sentenced to 18 months in prison,” the DOJ said.
Park Dong-moon, CEO of Kolon Industry, said that the company can now produce and sell Heracron. The company can now “freely” focus on expanding its para-aramid fiber business, he said.