KU researcher indicted on fraud, accused of not disclosing job at Chinese university

LAWRENCE, Kan. — A day after the FBI raided a laboratory in Lawrence, a University of Kansas researcher faces a federal indictment for fraud.

Feng “Franklin” Tao has been accused of not disclosing to the U.S. government that he was also a full-time professor at a university in China at the same time.

Feng “Franklin” Tao

The 47-year-old associate professor at KU’s Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis has been charged with one count of wire fraud and three counts of program fraud.

Tao has been employed at KU since 2014. The lab where he works at researches sustainable technology and resource conservation.

According to the indictment, in 2018, Tao signed a five-year contract with Fuzhou University in China. Potential conflicts of interest like that are required by law and university policy to be disclosed.

“Tao is alleged to have defrauded the U.S. government by unlawfully receiving federal grant money at the same time that he was employed and paid by a Chinese research university — a fact that he hid from his university and federal agencies,” said John Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to decades in prison and/or thousands of dollars for the charges.

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