Monday, January 18, 2021

US government charges MIT engineering professor

Via WBUR, this news about an MIT professor:

An MIT professor was arrested Thursday morning on federal charges that he failed to disclose ties to the Chinese government as he sought — and was awarded — research grants from the U.S. government.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said its charges against Gang Chen — paired with similar charges filed last summer against Harvard chemistry professor Charles Lieber — represent his office's attempt to counter the Chinese government's effort to "siphon off U.S. technology instead of doing the work themselves."

The charges focus on Chen's behavior since 2012, while he was running a laboratory focused on nanotechnology and energy transfer.

Chen served as chair of M.I.T.'s department of mechanical engineering from 2013 to 2018. Meanwhile, his laboratory attracted over $19 million in grants from federal agencies like the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, according to the complaint.

Here's the full charging document; here's the press release. 

Pretty clear that the United States government is looking very carefully at business and financial ties of STEM professionals who work in both the US and China. It will be interesting to see if this continues to be a major thrust in the Biden Administration.* 

*A brief bit of political punditry: it's hard for me to imagine that the policy of a Clinton Justice Department would have been any different than that of the Trump Administration when it comes to this case, or that of Professor Lieber. 


  1. To be fair, FBAR is one of crappiest laws we have and is a perpetual headache for many immigrants to America. $10,000 is a pathetically low total to trigger a reporting requirement.

  2. Perhaps to us rarefied PhDs, but I wouldn't try telling that to the 34 million americans living below the federal poverty level of $12,760.

    1. ~$10,000 is a normal checking or savings account balance for middle-class people. When I was on my corporate ex-pat assignment, I had to report four separate accounts every year, even though in many cases some of them may have not hit the threshold (remember, it is the *maximum* throughout the year. Do you know what the maximum value of your checking account was last year?). Shifting it to something more like $25,000 would alleviate the need to report daily-use checking accounts and focus on place where people were storing significant assets.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20