WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. grand jury charged South Korea-based Kolon Industries Inc with criminal trade theft in a long-running dispute over how the company produced high-strength fiber, according to an indictment unsealed on Thursday.
Kolon and five individuals face charges that they stole trade secrets belonging to DuPont Co, maker of Kevlar fabric used in body armor and other products, and Teijin Ltd, maker of Twaron, the rival fabric.
The United States threatens to take at least $226 million in assets from Kolon, which represents the gross proceeds of the company’s sales of its fabric, Heracron, according to the indictment.
The indictment is dated August 21 and was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. DuPont developed Kevlar in Virginia, according to the indictment.
The company and the individuals also face a charge that they obstructed the U.S. government’s investigation.
In a 2011 civil lawsuit, a federal jury ordered Kolon to pay DuPont $920 million in damages based on similar accusations. In August, a judge barred Kolon from making its version of the synthetic fiber for 20 years.
Kolon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
U.S. prosecutors are scheduled to discuss the indictment at a news conference at 11 a.m. (1500 GMT).
A court hearing in the case has been scheduled for December 11.
Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Kenneth; Barry