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Du Pont Process for Fiber Documented, Affidavit in Extortion Case Claims : Stolen Papers Allegedly Detail Spandex Secrets

From Reuters

An affidavit filed in a case stemming from a $10-million attempted extortion of Du Pont Co. shows stolen documents detailed company secrets for its spandex fiber.

In the affidavit filed in U.S. District Court, FBI Special Agent Charles Flagg said the documents ranged from “blueprints for the construction of the Du Pont Lycra manufacturing plants” to the company’s specific process for manufacturing the spandex fiber, “including mixtures, formulas, pressures, operating temperatures, plant maintenance and all necessary related technology.”

In the affidavit, Salim M. Ibrahim of Geneva, who directs Du Pont’s worldwide Lycra business and helped develop the spandex fiber process, told Flagg, “a knowledgeable individual or chemical company would be in a position to duplicate the Lycra manufacturing process” if they had access to the documents.

Lycra is primarily used in swimming suits, sportswear and stockings.

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Four former employees at the Du Pont Lycra manufacturing plant in Mercedes, Argentina, were arrested Feb. 28 in Geneva after an aborted meeting at which they were to pick up the $10 million in exchange for more than 1,000 documents stolen from the plant.

A fifth suspect, also a former employee, remained at large Tuesday.

All are charged with attempted extortion and conspiracy to extort, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. Edmond Falgowski.

If the suspects fight extradition, it could take up to two months to have them returned to the United States, Falgowski said, adding, if they waive extradition, they could be in Delaware in about a week.

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The affidavit alleges Isaac Assa, a Mexican citizen who manufactures spandex in Mexico City, hired Bruno Skerianz, who in turn enticed three employees of the Argentina plant to work for him.

Skerianz, who worked for Du Pont 20 years ago, was among the Argentine nationals arrested last week.

Raul Armando Giordano, 36, former superintendent of Lycra operations, and Antonio Ruben Inigo, 39, former maintenance supervisor of Lycra production at the plant, were allegedly recruited by Skerianz and arrested last month.

Maria Ines Lorenzo de Bianchini, 39, former custodian of the technical records at the plant with access to the documents, was also arrested. The affidavit says she was drawn into the scheme by Inigo, who allegedly was her lover.

Jose Maria Peterosino, 44, a former engineer on the Lycra production line, remains at large. He too, was allegedly recruited by Skerianz.

The affidavit says Assa’s first contact with Du Pont came in a meeting Nov. 10 and a second meeting the following day at company headquarters in Wilmington with Ibrahim and Paul G. Gillease, who directs Du Pont’s textile fibers division.

Assa told them he had hired Skerianz to gather technical information about spandex to make his company more competitive and that Skerianz had Du Pont secrets. Assa said Skerianz was negotiating to sell the information to the Italian fiber maker Ridici, the affidavit says.

Skerianz met in December in Wilmington with Ibrahim and Gillease, demanding $10 million for the documents and promising the former employees would not open a competing spandex operation for five years, the affidavit says.

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Skerianz met again with Ibrahim and Gillease in Wilmington on Jan. 9. The Du Pont executives were accompanied by an undercover FBI agent, the affidavit says.

After examining the documents Jan. 27 in Milan, Italy, Gillease called Skerianz to agree to the $10-million payment.


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