Skip to main content

Feds: 3 scientists conspired to take Chinese bribes for their U.S. research

By Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN
updated 6:30 AM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
The criminal complaint said Yudong Zhu, 44 of Scarsdale, recruited two other scientists to aid him in MRI research.
The criminal complaint said Yudong Zhu, 44 of Scarsdale, recruited two other scientists to aid him in MRI research.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The three researchers were working on MRI technology at a U.S. university
  • Their research was partially funded by a multimillion dollar National Institutes of Health grant
  • Federal authorities allege that the three took Chinese money for their research
  • The research went to a Chinese company and a government institution, authorities say

New York (CNN) -- Three university researchers working on medical technology are facing federal charges -- and up to 20 years in prison if convicted -- for allegedly taking Chinese money for their U.S.-funded research, according to federal authorities.

Their research was partially funded by a multimillion dollar National Institutes of Health grant, according to a criminal complaint.

The three -- Yudong Zhu, 44 of Scarsdale, and Xing Yang and Ye Li, both 31 of Hartsdale -- are each charged with one count of commercial bribery, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan. Zhu is also charged with one count lying about conflicts of interests in a federal research grant.

The three are Chinese nationals, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office. It was not clear from the statement what their status was while working in the United States.

"Instead of working exclusively for a New York research institution, the defendants took bribes to acquire research for the benefit of both a Chinese competitor and a Chinese government institution," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said.

The U.S. attorney's statement described the three as "researchers who worked on improving MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technology at a university in New York, New York." Although the statement did not name the university, the website of the New York University School of Medicine identifies Zhu as an associate professor conducting research focused on improving MRI technology.

The criminal complaint said Zhu recruited the other two scientists to aid him in the MRI research.

The defendants had undisclosed ties with a Chinese medical imaging company and a Chinese government-sponsored research institute conducting the same MRI research, according to federal authorities. The scientists allegedly shared private information stemming from their research in the United States with those Chinese institutions.

"As alleged, this is a case of inviting and paying for foxes in the henhouse," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Monday.

The researchers allegedly accepted thousands of dollars for travel, tuition and rent.

Zhu and Yang were arrested at their residences in New York Sunday, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Li is believed to have traveled to China before charges were brought.

Zhu and Yang appeared in court Monday and were both released on bond, according to Zhu's lawyer, Robert Baum.

"Many of the government's statements in the bail hearing misinterpreted facts which are actually consistent with his innocence," Baum told CNN Tuesday.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:58 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 10:38 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT