A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor and researcher was arrested and charged on Thursday due to the failure to disclose contracts, awards, and appointments from several entities in China to the US Department of Energy.
Gang Chen, 56, faces a criminal complaint with wire fraud when he failed to file a foreign bank account report (FBAR) and made a false statement in a tax return.
Chen is a naturalized US citizen born in China. He is also a researcher and professor at MIT, where he holds Director of the Solid-State Solar Thermal Energy Conversion Center (S3TEC) and MIT Pappalardo Micro/Nano Engineering Laboratory. Chen’s research at MIT has received more than $19 million in grants from several US federal agencies.
Chen allegedly held numerous PRC appointments to promote its technological and scientific development by giving advice and expertise, often in exchange for financial compensation since 2012.
The service includes acting as a PRC “overseas expert” upon the PRC Consulate Office’s request in New York, including serving as a member of a minimum of two PRC Talent Programs.
Chen apparently received about $29 million of foreign funding and $19 million from the PRC’s Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech).
The professor’s efforts to promote PRC’s economic and scientific development were partly detailed in his February 2016 MIT email that read:
- promote Chinese collaboration
- China places innovation (scientific) as key and core, not fashion [sic], but because
we must do it, from the historical trend as well from our stage
- our economy is no. 2, but from technology (structure of economy) and human resources, we are far from no. 2
- we are paying a big price in the environment, not sustainable, and from labor cost
- environment protection and development in the same place, environment even higher, clean energy if higher cost, reduce steel, cement. We must count on technology, which cannot grow as past
- communist 18th convention, scientific innovation placed at the core. We realize not just independent innovation but also internationalize to plan for and facilitate. Closed-door innovation does not work; innovation as a driving force
Chen applied for and obtained a US DOE grant to fund a portion of his MIT research when serving in several advisory roles for the PRC and its entities. In doing so, Chen allegedly failed to disclose his current affiliations with the PRC as DOE required.
Further, the professor allegedly failed to divulge to the IRS in his 2018 tax return that he maintained a PRC bank account containing more than $10,000.