Gang Chen, who works as the director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Solar Thermal Energy Conversion Center was arrested on Thursday by the U.S authorities for allegedly keeping his Chinese funding under wraps. In a statement released by U.S. District Attorney’s Office, the MIT professor was charged with the federal crimes of committing wire fraud, making a false statement in the tax return, and not filing foreign bank account reports with the authorities.
As per Andrew E. Lelling, the prosecutor for the case, “Chen was working for the Chinese government while securing U.S. research dollars”. Since 2013, Chen had received over $19 million in federal grants for his research work. At the same time, he was also receiving foreign funding, a total of $29 million, of which $19 million came from China’s Southern University of Science and Technology.
Chen had allegedly been collaborating with the Chinese government to stimulate scientific growth and technological development in the country, in return for receiving monetary compensation. He also had a bank in China holding more than $10,000 in 2018 which he failed to disclose while applying for research grants. “It is not illegal to collaborate with foreign researchers. It is illegal to lie about it” said the prosecutor while addressing the media.
The MIT professor who will be making an appearance in the court today can face up to 20 years of prison sentencing, 3 years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud. Further punishments for making false statements and failing to file a foreign bank account can each go up to 5 years of prison sentencing, 3 years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.