A former DuPont Co. scientist has pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets.
Federal prosecutors say Tze Chao is now cooperating with an investigation of a Chinese government-owned firm suspected of buying the information.
Chao admitted in a San Francisco federal court Thursday that he kept confidential DuPont documents after his 2002 retirement from the company, where he worked for 36 years. In 2003, he began consulting for Pangang Group Co., a Chinese steel manufacturer.
Pangang, Chao and several others were indicted last month on charges that they conspired to steal DuPont's recipes for manufacturing titanium dioxide, a widely used industrial coating.
Chao admitted passing proprietary information to Pangang.
The 77-year-old is free on bond until sentencing. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
DuPont is based in Wilmington, Del.