A professor and researcher at MIT was arrested and charged with grant fraud on Thursday. Professor Gang Chen allegedly failed to disclose his work for Communist China to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Professor Gang Chen was charged in connection with failing to disclose contracts, appointments, and awards from various entities in the China to the U.S. Department of Energy, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Chen was charged by criminal complaint with wire fraud, failing to file a foreign bank account report, and making a false statement in a tax return. The charge of wire fraud may result in a sentence of up to 20 years, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
Both charges of failing to file a foreign bank account report and making a false statement in a tax return could each carry their own sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.
Since approximately 2013, Chen, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in China, has had his research at MIT funded by more than $19 million in grants awarded by various U.S. federal agencies.
According to documents, Chen, since 2012, has allegedly held various appointments with China designed to promote the Communist regime’s technological and scientific development by providing advice and expertise — sometimes directly to China government officials — and often in exchange for financial compensation.
Chen has also acted as an “overseas expert” for the Chinese government, and has allegedly received approximately $29 million of foreign funding, including $19 million from the PRC’s Southern University of Science and Technology since 2013.
Moreover, it is alleged that Chen’s efforts to promote China’s scientific and economic development were partially detailed in a February 2016 email that the professor sent himself using his MIT e-mail account.
The email read as follows:
1. promote chinese collaboration
2. China places innovation (scientific) as key and core not fashion [sic], but because
we must do it, from historic trend as well from our stage
3. our economy is no. 2, but from technology (structure of economy) and human
resources, we are far from no. 2
4. we are paying big price in environment, not sustainable, as well as from labor cost
5. environment protection and development in same place, environment even higher, clean energy if higher cost, reduce steel, cement. We must count on technology, cannot grow as past
6. communist 18th convention, scientific innovation placed at core. We realize not just independent innovation; but also internationalize to plan for and facilitate. Closed door innovation does not work; innovation as driving force
The DOJ goes on to say that from at least 2017 to 2019, when Chen was serving in several advisory roles for China and Chinese entities, the professor applied for and obtained a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant in order to fund a portion of his research at MIT.
In doing so, Chen allegedly failed to disclose information about his ongoing affiliations with China, which is required by DOE.
The professor has also allegedly failed to disclose to the IRS in his 2018 tax return that he maintained a bank account in China with more than $10,000 in 2018.