BOSTON (WHDH) - A professor and researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was arrested at his Cambridge home Thursday for allegedly failing to disclose his work for the People’s Republic of China to the United States Department of Energy when applying for millions of dollars worth of federal grants.
Gang Chen, 56, is slated to face a judge Thursday on charges of wire fraud, failing to file a foreign bank account report, and making a false statement in a tax return, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
Chen, a naturalized US citizen who was born in China, serves as Director of the MIT Pappalardo Micro/Nano Engineering Laboratory and Director of the Solid-State Solar Thermal Energy Conversion Center.
His research at MIT has been funded by more than $19 million in grants awarded by various U.S. federal agencies beginning around 2013, the US Attorney’s Office said.
Since 2012, Chen has allegedly held various appointments with the People’s Republic of China designed to promote their technological and scientific development by providing advice and expertise, sometimes directly to People’s Republic of China government officials. This often came in exchange for financial compensation, charging documents alleged.
He has acted as an “overseas expert” for the People’s Republic of China government at the request of the People’s Republic of China Consulate Office in New York and served as a member of at least two People’s Republic of China Talent Programs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Since 2013, Chen allegedly received about $29 million of foreign funding, including $19 million from the People’s Republic of China’s Southern University of Science and Technology.
It is further alleged that Chen’s efforts to promote the PRC’s scientific and economic development were partially detailed in a February 2016 email that Chen sent himself using his MIT e-mail account. The email reportedly read:
1. promote chinese collaboration
2. China places innovation (scientific) as key and core not fashion [sic], but because we must do it, from historic trend as well from our stage
3. our economy is no. 2, but from technology (structure of economy) and human resources, we are far from no. 2
4. we are paying big price in environment, not sustainable, as well as from labor cost
5. environment protection and development in same place, environment even higher, clean energy if higher cost, reduce steel, cement. We must count on technology, cannot grow as past
6. communist 18th convention, scientific innovation placed at core. We realize not just independent innovation; but also internationalize to plan for and facilitate. Closed door innovation does not work; innovation as driving force
From at least 2017 to 2019 when Chen was serving in several advisory roles for the People’s Republic of China and their entities, Chen applied for and obtained a U.S. Department of Energy grant in order to fund a portion of his research at MIT, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He allegedly failed to disclose information about his ongoing affiliations with the People’s Republic of China as required by the Department of Energy.
Chen also allegedly failed to disclose to the IRS in his 2018 tax return that he maintained a bank account in the People’s Republic of China with more than $10,000 in 2018.
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