In what we're sure is just an honest mistake and total coincidence, Harvard University professor Dr. Charles Lieber was charged yesterday "in a superseding indictment with tax offenses for failing to report income he received from Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in Wuhan, China."
The United States District Attorney of Massachusetts said yesterday that Lieber, who had already been arrested on January 28, 2020, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston on 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. Then, in June 2020, Lieber was indicted on two counts of making false statements to federal authorities.
The DA alleges that Lieber served as the Principal Investigator of the Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, which received more than $15 million in federal research grants between 2008 and 2019. Unbeknownst to his employer, Harvard University, Lieber allegedly became a “Strategic Scientist” at WUT and, later, a contractual participant in China’s Thousand Talents Plan from at least 2012 through 2015.
China’s Thousand Talents Plan is described as "one of the most prominent Chinese 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."
He was paid a salary of up to $50,000 per month, living expenses of up to $150,000 and was awarded more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT. It is alleged that in 2018 and 2019, Lieber lied to federal authorities about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan and his affiliation with WUT.
He is accused of not paying taxes on money earned in 2013 and 2014 and it is alleged that he, together with WUT officials, opened a bank account at a Chinese bank during a trip to Wuhan in 2012. WUT "periodically deposited portions of Lieber’s salary into that account."
According to the Mass. DA, "the charge of making false statements provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of making and subscribing false income tax returns provides for a sentence of up to three years in prison, one year of supervised release and a $100,000 fine. The charge of failing to file an FBAR provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000."
We reported on Lieber when he was arrested back in January here. We noted the two Chinese nationals he was found to be working with - one a Boston University researcher who was once a lieutenant in the People’s Liberation Army, according to prosecutors, and another who was a cancer researcher who tried to smuggle 21 vials of biological materials in his sock - allegedly.
"Lieber's actions look like an unvarnished attempt at espionage, complete with an extremely seductive monetary reward," we noted at the time.