US authorities arrested a University researcher in Tennesse on February 27 on charges of false statement and fraud for allegedly hiding his relationship with a Chinese institution. Anming Hu, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been indicted for allegedly engaging in a scheme to defraud the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The indictment stated that the professor defrauded NASA by hiding his affiliation with Beijing University of Technology (BJUT). J Douglas, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, said that the Attorney Office takes seriously fraudulent conduct that is devised to undermine federally-mandated funding restrictions related to China and Chinese universities.
“The University of Tennessee has cooperated with the investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office values the university’s assistance in this matter,” said Douglas in a statement.
John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said that the United States will not tolerate the concealing of affiliations with China from American employers and the government. According to the indictment, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, falsely certified that the institute was in compliance with the federal law because of Hu’s false representations and omissions to UTK about his affiliation with the Beijing Institute.
“Federal law prohibits NASA from using appropriated funds on projects in collaboration with China or Chinese universities,” said the Justice Department in a statement.
The University professor is currently charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements. If convicted, the University professor faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the fraud counts and up to five years in prison on each of the false statement counts. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Offices of the Inspectors General for NASA and the Department of Energy are probing the case.