On failing to disclose his ties to the Chinese government when seeking federal grant money, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, specializing in nanotechnology research, was arrested on U.S. charges.
Gang Chen, a Chinese-born mechanical engineer and nanotechnologist was charged by federal prosecutors in Boston on Thursday for defrauding the U.S. Department of Energy. Allegations are that Mr. Chen was seeking grants and in his attempts, he failed to disclose a foreign bank account on a tax return.
Execution of search warrants for his home in Cambridge and office at MIT followed after Chen’s arrest.
Chen, the director of MIT Pappalardo Micro/Nano Engineering Laboratory was later released on bail. By Chen’s arrest, MIT released a statement saying it was deeply distressed by this scenario. Robert Fisher, Chen’s attorney clarified Chen’s position by saying how the fifty-six-year-old Chen loves the country where he stays is willing to vigorously defend all the allegations.
Among the many cases that emerged from the U.S. Department of Justice cracking down Chinese influence in universities in the middle of concerns about spying and intellectual property theft by the Chinese government, this is the most recent one.
Joseph Bonavolonta, the representative of FBI’s Boston field office, admitted how half of the total i.e. 5000 counter-intelligence investigations are related to China.
The claims put forward by prosecutors in Chen’s case are that he was trying to promote China’s technological and scientific development. Additionally, he was also involved in putting various efforts to act as an overseas expert for the government at the request of China’s New York consulate.
That Chen never disclosed working for NNSFC or any other Chinese affiliations, is the main charge put forward by the prosecutors. According to them, Chen received monetary help from various Chinese entities to help review and assess grant applications for the National Natural Science Foundation of China. This organization operates similar to U.S. grant-funding agency.
If the prosecutors are to be believed, in terms of the money, since the year 2013, several federal agencies have supported Chen with more than $19 million grants for funding his research.