Illinois professor found guilty of failing to declare Chinese bank account

The Chinese and American flags are waving. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

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  • Mingqing Xiao sentenced in latest China Initiative trial
  • The judge cleared him of wire fraud charges before the jury received the case

(Reuters) – An Illinois math professor was found guilty of failing to disclose a foreign bank account, but was allowed to conceal his ties to China while seeking a federal grant in the latest trial stemming from a Trump-era crackdown on Chinese influence in the United States. to research.

A federal jury in Benton, Illinois on Wednesday found Mingqing Xiao, a professor at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, guilty on four counts, charging largely with failing to disclose a Chinese bank account in his tax returns from 2017 to 2019.

But the jury acquitted him of making a false statement in a grant proposal submitted to the National Science Foundation, which in 2019 awarded him $151,099 for his research. U.S. Judge Staci Yandle ruled on Monday that prosecutors failed to prove two charges of wire fraud.

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Xiao, who was born in China, faces sentencing in August. He denies any wrongdoing and defense attorney Patrick Linehan of Steptoe & Johnson said he plans to challenge his conviction after the trial.

“Ultimately, we believe this was a rebuke to the Justice Department’s China initiative,” said Ryan Poscablo, another attorney for Xio.

The Justice Department had no comment. SIU Carbondale said Xiao remains on paid administrative leave.

He was one of two dozen academics charged in the US Justice Department’s China Initiative, which was launched under former President Donald Trump’s administration to counter suspicions of economic espionage and Chinese research flight.

The targets included university researchers accused of concealing ties to China while receiving federal grants.

A Harvard University professor, Charles Lieber, was convicted in December in Boston of lying about his ties to a Chinese-led recruitment program. He should appeal.

But despite Harvard’s victory, several other cases fell through, including in January when federal prosecutors were forced to drop a high-profile grant fraud case against Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Gang Chen.

The Justice Department ended the initiative in February following several unsuccessful lawsuits and criticism that it chilled academic research and fueled prejudice against Asians, although it said it would continue to pursue cases concerning threats posed by China.

Prosecutors alleged that Xiao failed to tell the NSF about another grant he received from the Chinese government or that he was an employee of Shenzhen University in China.

They said he also failed to disclose a foreign bank account on his 2017 to 2019 tax returns.

The case is United States v. Xiao, US District Court, Southern District of Illinois, No. 21-cr-40039.

For the United States: Peter Reed, Scott Verseman and Shawn Shugert of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois

For Xiao: Ryan Poscablo and Patrick Linehan of Steptoe & Johnson LLP and Michelle Nasser of Dowd Bennet

Read more:

US Department of Justice to end Trump-era program targeting threats posed by China

Harvard professor convicted by US jury for lying about China relations

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Nathalie Raymond

Thomson Reuters

Nate Raymond reports on federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at [email protected]

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