Trade Secrets ‘Food Fight’ Over Bail

The bail fight by a man accused of conspiracy to sell DuPont trade secrets to a Chinese government-controlled company reads like a preview of a potential trial.

Earlier this month federal prosecutors said in court papers that bail for Walter Liew was unthinkable because of the risk he’ll flee the country.  Bail should be denied because “he is a fundamentally dishonest person who has proven, time and again, that he cannot be trusted; and he has never accounted for the millions of dollars that he moved offshore,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hemann on Dec. 13.

Liew’s lawyers responded Friday that the government is using Liew’s proposal to post as bond a $2 million home his wife owns as Singapore in an “improper attempt to build the government’s as-yet-uncharged financial case.”

The government is creating an “impossible Catch-22 for Mr. Liew, forcing him to choose between his right to bail and his privilege against self-incrimination,” wrote Stuart Gasner, of Keker & Van Nest.

Liew and his wife, Christina Liew, were charged in 2011 with witness tampering, conspiracy and lying to authorities in connection with the alleged theft of valuable chemical technology from DuPont.

China’s Pangang Group Co. was accused, along with eight company officials, of conspiring to steal titanium dioxide technology from DuPont Co.  China wanted to develop the titanium process used to create a white pigment used in paint, plastic and paper.

The prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White that Liew, has been dishonest “at every turn in this prosecution,” including responding to DuPont’s civil action by “obstructive justice and tampering with witnesses.”

Hemann argued that Liew’s companies received almost $28 million from TiO2 customers and that he moved $22.5 million from the U.S. to six shell companies in Singapore.

The government said the transfers raise questions about what happened to the money and who controls it.

All this creates a huge problem for the defense.  It accuses the government of using bail as a means of discovery and as an offensive weapon against Liew.  Prosecutors plan to narrowly construe Liew’s Fifth Amendment protection and using information from banks, financial records and family in a “draconian and one-sided” procedure, Gasner wrote.

Even worse, he said, the prosecutors plan to “spring a perjury trap’’ if and when any further financial disclosures are made.”

Last week, White indicated he was willing to release Liew on a suitably high bail and with strict conditions, which might include Liew footing the bill for his own 24-hour guards while on home detention.  But White wanted added briefing and now he has it.

Whether Liew will win bail or not is back in White’s lap.

Case:  U.S. v. Liew, No. CR11-573JSW




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