University professor indicted for defrauding U.S. government by taking money from Chinese universities
Associate Professor Feng “Franklin” Tao of the University of Kansas (KU) was indicted on August 21 on federal charges of hiding his full-time position for a Chinese university, while simultaneously receiving government funding at (KU).
He has been charged with one count of wire fraud and three counts of program fraud. If convicted of these charges, Tao faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the wire fraud count, and up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the program fraud counts. Given his age of 47, this means Tao could be over 70 years old by the time he leaves prison if convicted.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Tao has been employed as an associate professor at KU’s Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (CEBC) since August 2014, assisting in research on sustainable technology to conserve natural resources and energy.
A welcome message on the Feng (Franklin) Tao Group on KU’s website reads, “We are interested in synthesis, evaluation of catalytic performance, and in-situ/operando characterization of nanocatalysts for chemical and energy transformations. We focus on fundamental understanding of important catalytic reactions at molecular level.”
However, it is alleged that in May 2018 Tao signed an additional five-year contract with Fuzhou University in China. At this university, he was designated a Changjiang Scholar Distinguished Professor; though, it is not clear how Tao managed to distinguish himself while living in the U.S. This contract required him to be a full-time employee. This is despite the contract with KU and his federal funding from two U.S. Department of Energy contracts and four National Science Foundation contracts.
According to the DOJ, this constitutes fraud and a conflict of interest, as Tao never disclosed his professorship at another university.
“Kansas Board of Regents’ policy requires staff to file an annual conflict of interest report,” the DOJ explains. “In Tao’s reports to KU, he falsely claimed to have no conflicts of interest. The indictment alleges that he fraudulently received more than $37,000 in salary paid for by the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.”
The University of Kansas was cooperative throughout the FBI’s investigation, assisting them by providing information on Tao.
According to KMBC News, KU’s Chancellor Douglas Girod released the following message to colleagues:
As has been publicly reported, one of our faculty members has been involved in an investigation of alleged criminal activity. He is accused of fraud related to his work at our Lawrence campus and in China.
We take these allegations very seriously. We learned of this potential criminal activity this spring, and we reported it to authorities and have cooperated with the ongoing investigation. Additionally, we have placed the faculty member on paid administrative leave. Given that this is a personnel matter and an ongoing criminal investigation, we are not able to share additional details.
He goes on to stress the importance of maintaining the collaborative nature within academia, especially collaborations involving the cooperation of other universities, national or foreign, including those from China.
“Tao is alleged to have defrauded the U.S. government by unlawfully receiving federal grant money at the same time that he was employed and paid by a Chinese research university — a fact that he hid from his university and federal agencies,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers for National Security. “Any potential conflicts of commitment by a researcher must be disclosed as required by law and university policies. The Department will continue to pursue any unlawful failure to do so.”
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), this most recent indictment will likely add to the concerns of US officials regarding the risks from “China to US universities,” as the Trump administration has been confronting China over “what Washington sees as the use of sometimes illicit methods for acquiring rapid technological advancement.” This would include stealing trade secrets or technological and/or scientific innovations.
China has denied such suggestions. However, amidst the ongoing trade war between the two countries, intelligence officials have been issuing more severe warnings regarding intellectual property theft and espionage, reports SCMP.
Tao is set to make his first appearance on Friday, August 23, 2019, in a federal court in Kansas City, Kansas.
A DOJ spokesperson has said that Tao has made no plea, so far.
The DOJ has reaffirmed that Tao is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty, and that the maximum potential sentences, in this case, are prescribed by Congress, but ultimately the length of time Tao would serve if convicted will be determined by the assigned judge.
Canada’s corporate and media elites are more supportive of the Iranian regime than the Iranian people.
We are seeing that as the inescapable conclusion of recent events, which have revealed to us a stunning contrast in how the Iranian people and Western elites have responded.
Remember how the CBC first started the blame-America messaging shortly after the Iranian regime finally admitted to shooting down a plane with 57 Canadian citizens onboard?
That was increasingly echoed by much of the establishment media, despite a clear consensus among Canadians that the Iranian regime bore the responsibility.
And then, Maple Leaf Foods CEO Michael McCain bizarrely used the company’s corporate Twitter account to Tweet out a series of messages that echo the propaganda line of the Iranian regime:
“I’m Michael McCain, CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, and these are personal reflections. I am very angry, and time isn’t making me less angry. A MLF colleague of mine lost his wife and family this week to a needless, irresponsible series of events in Iran…”
“…U.S. government leaders unconstrained by checks/balances, concocted an ill-conceived plan to divert focus from political woes. The world knows Iran is a dangerous state, but the world found a path to contain it; not perfect but by most accounts it was the right direction…”
“..A narcissist in Washington tears world accomplishments apart; destabilizes region. US now unwelcomed everywhere in the area including Iraq; tensions escalated to feverish pitch. Taking out despicable military leader terrorist? There are a hundred like him, standing next in line”
“…The collateral damage of this irresponsible, dangerous, ill-conceived behavior? 63 Canadians needlessly lost their lives in the crossfire, including the family of one of my MLF colleagues (his wife + 11 year old son)! We are mourning and I am livid. Michael McCain.”
In all of his remarks, McCain fails to mention that Iran shot down the plane.
He also fails to mention that events didn’t magically start with the U.S. strike on Soleimani. As we all know, Iran had violated repeated U.S. red-lines, including attacking U.S. personnel in the region and attacking the U.S. Embassy. Considering that the U.S. is a close ally of Canada, it makes sense that Canadians would be supportive of the U.S. responding to attacks on their people, rather than condemning the U.S. for responding.
Of course, the big issue with what McCain said is that he is saying things very similar to the official Iranian regime propaganda line.
The Iranian regime has repeatedly said that the U.S. is to blame for “escalating,” while ignoring Iran’s initial escalation against the US and violation of US red-lines.
Additionally, McCain’s comments fail to recognize the nature of the regime in Iran, which regularly spreads state-sponsored lies in order to advance their narrative and influence people in the West, while butchering protesters, executing gay people, oppressing women, threatening to destroy Israel, and sponsoring terrorism around the world.
There is simply no moral equivalence between the democratically-elected U.S. government, and the un-elected ruthless Iranian regime.
Amazingly, McCain’s position is far more similar to the Iranian regime propaganda line than the Iranian people themselves. Iranians have been protesting in droves, and they’re not blaming the U.S. Instead, the blame is being put solely where it belongs, on the same Iranian regime that has regularly shown contempt for the lives of the Iranian people.
That contempt can be seen and felt clearly, as the Iranian regime shoots live ammunition at grieving protesters in the street.
And if that isn’t enough, consider that even members of Iran’s official State Propaganda machine are quitting, unable to stomach all the lies.
One TV news anchor, Gelare Jabbari, quit and apologized for pushing the initial regime denial of responsibility:
“Iran State TV’s anchor resigns saying, “It was very hard for me to believe the killing of my countrymen. I apologize for lying to you on TV for 13 years.”
So, what we’re now seeing and hearing is the Iranian people condemning their regime and holding their regime responsible for shooting down the plane, while corporate elites like Michael McCain blame our closest ally–and the leader of the free world–and barely even mention Iran at all.
What an upside-down world we’re living in…
In one of the most disgraceful media displays seen in Canada for some time, the establishment press is trying to push a “blame America” and “blame Trump” propaganda line, following intelligence that showed Iran shot down the flight carrying 63 Canadian citizens.
On CBC, Katie Simpson said, “63 Canadians dead because of the unintended consequences of a decision made by the US President…”
During PM Trudeau’s press conference at least three reporters, including from CBC’s roster, repeatedly tried to get Trudeau to blame U.S. President Donald Trump and America for what happened.
The media kept saying it “started with a drone strike,” completely ignoring the fact the drone strike followed Iran repeatedly killing U.S. soldiers and attacking the U.S. embassy in Iraq.
The media pushed a disgusting and disgraceful fake narrative, pretending that all of history began the moment Trump ordered a drone strike, as if nothing had ever happened before.
Additionally, the establishment media ignored the obvious truth that the only country responsible for shooting the plane down is… wait for it… the country that shot down the plane.
This continues a pattern of disloyalty and anti-Western, anti-American sentiment from the establishment media.
They are basically pushing the same propaganda line that Iran is likely to push, claiming that “tensions in the region” are somehow all the fault of the U.S., and that shooting the plane was “caused by America”.
Much of the media keeps saying Iran had to retaliate for the killing of Soleimani, once again ignoring the fact that the U.S. had to respond to attacks on their embassy, and ignoring the fact that Soleimani had orchestrated the deaths of hundreds of Americans in Iraq.
Somehow, in the addled minds of the establishment press, ruthless regimes like Iran have the right to respond, but democratic nations like the U.S. don’t.
It’s insane, and even more insane when you consider how the Iranian government oppresses women, executes LGBT people, butchers protestors, and sponsors terror.
At the most basic level, you would think that Canada’s establishment press would refuse to side with Iran or push the Iranian propaganda line, but even that is too much to ask.
And worst of all, with CBC pushing that BS so forcefully, Canadian taxpayers are being forced to pay for some of the most terrible “coverage” we’ve ever seen. The latest disgraceful reporting came on the heels of mainstream media journalists being awoken from their Trudeau Mania stupor over his new beard.
With such a dishonest and manipulative media, it’s no wonder that Canada is increasingly broken, divided, and powerless.
People are concerned for their privacy regarding the new pilot program being implemented by the United States. The program involves collecting DNA from migrants and immigrants being held in immigration custody. The program is being applied at both the Canadian and U.S. borders.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the project will begin Monday and will last for 90 days. The program will first be used in Texas and Michigan and is meant to eventually expand to the rest of the country.
The Border protection and Customs plan to gather swabs from those seized by the U.S. Border Patrol. The locations included in this collection are Detroit and the surrounding area, as well as Eagle Pass, Texas.
They will be collecting DNA from people above the age of 14.
People entering the U.S. without authorization as well as permanent residents carrying green cards will be among those affected by the program. People who decline the program’s rules can be criminally charged.
Acting director of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law’s International Human Rights Program, Petra Molnar told Global News, “I think it’s definitely an example of how hard-line and draconian the policies in the U.S. in particular are turning when it comes to immigration, custody and detention.”
“That’s one of the things that I think is unclear about this super problematic policy,” Molnar added. “It’s incredibly over-broad, and we don’t know who would actually be affected.”
Molnar also noted that this gathering of information usually ends up targeting minorities.
In their memo, the government mentioned that the DNA collected might not be useful straight away. The swabs of saliva that are collected are then mailed to the FBI. Since the results of the test take time, the people in question may have already moved on.
The government has mentioned that people who come into the country legally will not be will not have their DNA taken. The CBP has accidentally assumed that people crossing the border were doing so illegally in the past though.
The U.S. military ironically released a memo urging members not to take consumer ancestry tests due to concerns of privacy.
The memo read, “Exposing sensitive genetic information to outside parties poses personal and operational risks to service members.”
So far concerns have been raised by the American Civil Liberties Union among others.
ACLU attorney Stephen Kang, wondered if the country was making “a DNA bank of immigrants that have come through custody for no clear reason.”
“It raises a lot of very serious, practical concerns, I think, and real questions about coercion.”
President Trump’s administration has recently mentioned that they plan to use biometrics more than they currently do to stop illegal immigrants.
Chinese authorities are among other countries that have reportedly used similar tactics of DNA collection on residents.
Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne called for “de-escalation” and “restraint” following the U.S. military strike in Iraq that killed Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Quds Force.
“Canada is in contact with our international partners. The safety and well-being of Canadians in Iraq and the region, including our troops and diplomats, is our paramount concern,” the minister said in a statement released approximately 14 hours after the attack.
“We call on all sides to exercise restraint and pursue de-escalation. Our goal is and remains a united and stable Iraq.”
Since 2012, Canada has designated Quds Force a “listed terrorist entity” among the likes of Boko Haram and al-Qaeda—the current Liberal government has resisted efforts by opposition legislators and Iranian dissidents to list the entire Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“Canada has long been concerned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force, led by Qasem Soleimani,” said Champagne in his statement issued just before the noon on Friday.
“Whose aggressive actions have had a destabilizing effect in the region and beyond.”
In April of 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump officially designated IRGC a terror group. Soleimani’s killing is viewed as retaliation for efforts to lay siege at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on New Year’s Eve.
Clarification: an earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Champagne’s statement came 18 hours after the attack. TPM regrets any confusion this may have caused.