A professor from the University of Arkansas has been arrested on wire fraud charges over his alleged ties to the Chinese regime.
According to court documents, the Fayetteville campus professor, 63-year-old Simon Saw-Teong Ang, allegedly received grant money from NASA, but failed to disclose his ties to the Chinese regime and Chinese companies when required to do so.
The Malaysia-born professor, who was the director of the university’s High Density Electronics Center, received funding from and worked for Chinese companies and the Thousand Talents Plan (TTP), which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses to attract research specialists working overseas. Ang allegedly asked a researcher to keep his links to the CCP’s program a secret, court papers state.
“Not many people here know I am one of them but if this leaks out, my job here will be in deep troubles,” Ang wrote last June to a Xidian University researcher, who intended to visit the University of Arkansas. “After you read this email, please delete for safety sake as any email can be retrieved.”
Beijing rolled out the TTP in 2008 to aggressively recruit promising science and tech researchers from foreign countries to work in China—a program which the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) summarized as “rob, replicate, replace.”
By 2017, Beijing had recruited more than 7,000 people for the program.
#BREAKING Simon Ang, a @UArkansas professor, was just charged with wire fraud. Ang allegedly had close ties to the #Chinese government, which he failed to disclose as required when receiving grant money from @NASA. More about this #FBI case here: https://t.co/dB6QE21sXg #ARnews pic.twitter.com/j1ohqhJZO1
— FBI Little Rock (@FBILittleRock) May 11, 2020
Ang hid his financial arrangements, which allowed him to continue receiving grant money from NASA and other U.S. government agencies. If the professor disclosed the funding he had been receiving from the Chinese regime, he would have been unable to secure U.S. grants, according to court documents.
Over the past seven years, Ang received more than $5 million in grants from U.S. government agencies, court papers state. He had been working at the university since 1988.
“These materially false representations to NASA and the University of Arkansas resulted in numerous wires to be sent and received that facilitated Ang’s scheme to defraud,” a news release from the Department of Justice (DOJ) released Monday states.
The email from the researcher to Ang about his involvement in the TTP was allegedly discovered in a hard drive by a librarian at the University of Arkansas. The email had been sent to Ang’s personal email, however, his university email address had been copied in, court documents revealed.
Ang, who earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas, was arrested on May 8, and charged on Monday with one count of wire fraud. If convicted, the electrical engineering professor faces a maximum prison term of 20 years.
The FBI is continuing to investigate the case.
The DOJ previously said that the TTP is one of the most prominent Chinese recruitment programs, which “seek to lure overseas talent and foreign experts to bring their knowledge and experience to China and reward individuals for stealing proprietary information.”