Professor arrested for using American grant funds for Chinese researchPTI | Washington DC | Updated: 10-07-2020 08:59 IST | Created: 10-07-2020 08:27 IST
A rheumatology professor and researcher with strong ties to China has been ordered 'held without bond' to face a charge of grant fraud for not disclosing that he was engaged in a scheme to use approximately USD 4.1 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop China's expertise immunology, a US attorney has said. Song Guo Zheng, 57, is also charged with making false statements about maintaining employment in China at the same time as he was employed at universities in the United States, including The Ohio State University.
The researcher was arrested on May 22 after he arrived in Anchorage aboard a charter flight and as he prepared to board another charter flight to China. When he was arrested, he was carrying three large bags, one small suitcase and a briefcase containing two laptops, three cellular telephones, several USB drives, several silver bars, expired Chinese passports of his family, deeds for property in China and other items, federal prosecutors said.
"Yet again, we are faced with a professor at a US University, who is a member of a Chinese Talent Plan, allegedly and deliberately failing to disclose his relationship with a Chinese university and receipt of funds from the Chinese government in order to obtain millions of dollars in US grant money designed to benefit the health and well-being of the people of the United States -- not to be hijacked to supplement the research goals of the Chinese Communist Party," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C Demers. "This case, like too many others, should serve as a reminder that the United States government takes seriously the obligation of truthfulness and transparency on grant applications, and those who violate the law to benefit China or any other foreign nation will be held accountable," he said.
"We allege that Zheng was preparing to flee the country after he learned that his employer had begun an administrative process into whether or not he was complying with rules governing taxpayer-funded grants," said David M DeVillers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. A criminal complaint filed May 23 and unsealed following the detention hearing charges Zheng with one count of fraud or bribery concerning programmes receiving federal funds, a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison, and one count of making false statements, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.