An engineering professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was arrested Thursday on charges of failing to disclose contracts, appointments and awards from Chinese entities to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The professor, Gang Chen, is accused of failing to disclose advisory roles he had with Chinese government entities in a Department of Energy grant application, and of failing to report more than $10,000 in a Chinese bank account on his 2018 tax return.
In a press release, the Department of Justice said that Chen has held various appointments since 2012 intended to advance China’s technological and scientific development, including by acting as an “overseas expert” at the request of the Chinese consulate in New York and by serving in “at least” two Chinese talent programs. U.S. prosecutors allege that Chen has received approximately $29 million in foreign funding since 2019, including $19 million from a Chinese university, the Southern University of Science and Technology.
Prosecutors say U.S. federal agencies have awarded more than $19 million in grants to support Chen’s research since 2013.
In a statement quoted by the Associated Press, MIT said it was “deeply distressed” by Chen’s arrest.
“MIT believes the integrity of research is a fundamental responsibility, and we take seriously concerns about improper influence in U.S. research. Prof. Chen is a long-serving and highly respected member of the research community, which makes the government’s allegations against him all the more distressing,” the statement said.
The AP also quoted a lawyer for Chen, Rob Fisher, who said Chen “loves the United States and looks forward to vigorously defending these allegations.”