A Harvard University professor was convicted by a federal jury on Tuesday of lying to the US about his involvement with China’s government, the Justice Department announced.
Dr. Charles Lieber, 62, the former chair of Harvard’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was found guilty of two counts of making false statements to federal authorities, two counts of making and subscribing a false income tax return, and two counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts with the Internal Revenue Service.
Lieber’s research group at Harvard had received over $15 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense, which requires disclosing foreign financial conflicts of interests. The jury found that Lieber had lied about his affiliation with the Wuhan University of Technology in China and a contract he had with a Chinese talent recruitment plan to attract high-level scientists to the country.
He was being paid $50,000 per month by the Chinese university and given $1.5 million to establish a nanoscience research lab at WUT, the Justice Department said in a news release. Lieberman was specifically affiliated with China’s Thousand Talents Program, which the department called “one of the most prominent talent recruitment plans designed to attract, recruit and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security.”
Acting US attorney Nathaniel Mendell said in a statement Tuesday that “there is now no question that Charles Lieber lied to federal investigators and to Harvard in an attempt to hide his participation in the Chinese Thousand Talents Program.”
“He lied to the IRS about the money he was paid, and he concealed his Chinese bank account from the United States. The jury followed the evidence and the law to a just verdict,” he continued.
Patrick Hegarty, the special agent in charge of the Northeast field office Defense Criminal Investigative Service, similarly said in a statement that Lieber “eroded the trust the DoD has in its researchers to prioritize the United States and its service members over foreign governments, and over personal financial gain.”
Lieber’s sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
CNN’s Evan Perez, Rob Frehse, Veronica Stracqualursi and Sheena Jones contributed to this report.