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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Making a Killing

"They planned to use the intellectual property and materials of the CFIA [Canadian Food Inspection Agency] to commence commercial manufacturing of brucellosis kits in China. They initially planned to do so in co-operation with China's Ministry of Agriculture and provide a share of the profits to the ministry."
"Should the suitcase have been damaged, lost or subject to inspection, innocent third parties would have handled the contents and been exposed to the pathogen."
Court Documents
Both Yu and Nielsen are former employees of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. (File photo/CFP)
Both Yu and Nielsen are former employees of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. (File photo/CFP)

Klaus Nielson born in Denmark, a Canadian citizen since the 1960s, was a highly respected public servant as a brilliant scientist working for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as an expert on the Brucella bacteria. He authored a number of books and scholarly scientific papers on his field of expertise And he travelled internationally to lecture and advise governments on the Brucella bacteria, the disease it causes -- Brucellosis -- in cattle mostly, but it can also infect humans and other animals.

Fellow scientist Wei Ling Yu, 49 to Mr. Nielson's 69, originally came from China and became a Canadian citizen in 2005. She too worked for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.  Ms. Yu left Canada and is believed now to be living in China. She was quick enough to avoid a scenario where she would be arrested, as Mr. Nielsen, her co-conspirator was, in October of 2012, heading to the Ottawa International Airport, with 17 vials of the Brucellosis pathogen in his check-in luggage.

While Brucellosis was eradicated in Canada in domestic animals decades ago, thousands of
Brucellosis cases are reported on a regular basis on developing countries. China is said to be the site of acute Brucellosis outbreaks. Mr. Nielson pleaded guilty to ten charges of handling along with attempts to smuggle the Brucella bacteria and one charge of breach of trust. Sentencing will come down later this year, and it is entirely likely that this once-eminent scientist will face a possible jail sentence.

Mr. Nielsen and Ms. Yu, both scientists at CFIA, began a company they called the Peace River Biotechnology Company in 2006 whose purpose was the manufacture and sale of brucellosis diagnostic kits. Mr. Nielson, as a Canadian Food Inspection Agency worker had assisted in the kit's development in partnership with American scientist Michael Jolley. Mr. Jolley uses the kits lawfully in agreement with the CFIA in his own company in the United States, Diachemix. He holds worldwide commercial rights to all the patents resulting from that kit development.

Diachemix became aware that the Peace River Biotechnology Company which had been based in China by Mr. Nielsen and Ms. Yu, to take advantage of the low cost of registering their company in China, and paying no tax as foreign-owned, was competing with his own company for business. Since he alone had worldwide patent rights in agreement with the CFIA,  Diachemix threatened to take the CFIA to court over the matter. To protect itself from being sued, the CFIA undertook an investigation through business experts in China to probe Peace River.

The result was that the CFIA fired both of the scientists, Mr. Nielsen and Ms. Yu, in 2011 for contravening federal government conflict-of-interest rules, taking steps to report their activities to the RCMP for investigation. An undercover surveillance operation was launched by the RCMP. During the 18-months that the investigation continued, police copied contents of Mr. Nielson's computer when they surreptitiously entered his home.

It became abundantly clear that the duo of Nielson and Yu were contemplating making a killing on the operation of their illegal business. Crown prosecutors claim that as a scientist Mr. Nielsen could not help but be "fully aware" that in carrying the human pathogens in such a way that "demonstrated a wanton and reckless disregard for the safety of the public", his actions represented a public menace of endangerment.

 A distinguished public and international career destroyed by the very man who should have been keen to leave a clean record of scientific probity as his legacy, led astray by the appeal of self-enrichment.
"I do not care the big house. I think I will have a very nice house very soon after we make money ... huge amount of money, big house at beach." Wei Ling Yu

"Yes, our dreams will come true." Klaus Nielsen

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