A Kansas associate professor concealed work he was doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas and tried to recruit other researchers and students for the Chinese government, according to revised federal charges filed Wednesday.
An extensively detailed superseding indictment charges Feng “Franklin” Tao, 47, of Lawrence, Kansas, with two counts of wire fraud and one count of program fraud for failing to disclose on conflict-of-interest forms the work he was doing for China while employed as a full-time associate professor at the University of Kansas’ Center for Environmental Beneficial Catalysis. Prosecutors said some of the Tao’s research at the Kansas university was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Tao’s defense attorney did not immediately return an after-hours phone message and email seeking comment.
The 16-page indictment describes how China spurred its rapid economic growth by offering scholarships or funding to foreign students or visiting professors who were studying or working at U.S. universities. It also used “talent plans” designed to encourage the transfer of original ideas and intellectual property from U.S. universities to Chinese government institutions to enhance Chinese “scientific development, economic prosperity, and national security.”