University of Arkansas professor arrested, caught funneling money to China

A professor at the University of Arkansas, Simon Saw-Teong Ang, of Fayetteville, was arrested on Friday, May 8, 2020, on charges related to Wire Fraud and for allegedly concealing his involvement in a program that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses to steal intellectual property from U.S. institutions.

The New York Times reported that “He worked for and received funding from Chinese companies and from the Thousand Talents program, which awards grants to scientists to encourage relationships with the Chinese government, and he warned an associate to keep his affiliation with the program quiet.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice,

“The complaint charges that Ang had close ties with the Chinese government and Chinese companies, and failed to disclose those ties when required to do so in order to receive grant money from NASA. These materially false representations to NASA and the University of Arkansas resulted in numerous wires to be sent and received that facilitated Ang’s scheme to defraud.”

If convicted, Ang faces a statutory maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.

The FBI is investigating the case.  Acting U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas and Trial Attorneys Michael Eaton and Ali Ahmad from the National Security Division are prosecuting the case, according to the DOJ.

A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge, DOJ explained in a press release.

The Times also reported that Ang’s alleged concealment of his financial agreement with the Chinese Communist Party allowed him to also secure funding from U.S. government agencies that normally ban people who receive funding from China.

Before Ang’s arrest, several others were arrested for their ties to China. According to the Times, “Dr. Xiao-Jiang Li, a former professor at Emory University in Atlanta, pleaded guilty … to a felony charge of filing a false tax return that omitted about $500,000 that he received from the Thousand Talents program. He was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay $35,089 in restitution.”

And in January, federal law enforcement officials arrested Harvard scientist, Dr. Charles Lieber, for also allegedly lying to the U.S. government about his involvement in the Thousand Talents program.

The Times reported that Lieber “was named a University Professor, Harvard’s highest faculty rank, one of only 26 professors to hold that status,” and that “he earned the National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award for inventing syringe-injectable mesh electronics that can integrate with the brain” in 2017.

“According to court documents, since 2008, Dr. Lieber who has served as the Principal Investigator of the Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, which specialized in the area of nanoscience, has received more than $15,000,000 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD),” the DOJ said in a statement. “These grants require the disclosure of significant foreign financial conflicts of interest, including financial support from foreign governments or foreign entities.”

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