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Harvard professor convicted of lying about ties to lucrative China recruiting program

Harvard professor convicted of lying about ties to lucrative China recruiting program
The Harvard University campus is seen in Cambridge, Mass. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 22 (UPI) -- A Harvard University professor has been convicted by a Boston jury of hiding his involvement with a lucrative Chinese recruiting program -- which sought experts in various fields, including technology -- to protect his career and reputation.

Charles Lieber, the former chair of Harvard's Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was found guilty on several counts -- including making false statements, filing false tax returns and failing to report foreign bank and financial accounts, or FBAR.

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Lieber, 62, was arrested by federal agents in early 2020 and pleaded not guilty at trial.

Prosecutors argued that Lieber hid his involvement in China's "Thousand Talents Plan," a program to recruit experts in foreign technologies and intellectual property.

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For his involvement in the program, Lieber was paid up to $50,000 per month and received up to $150,000 in living expenses. He was also given more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab in China, authorities said.

"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 Justice Department said in a statement.

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"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."

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Lieber was an investigator at the Leiber Research Group, which authorities say received more than $15 million in funding from the Pentagon and the National Institutes of Health without disclosing foreign financial conflicts of interests.

It wasn't immediately announced when Lieber will be sentenced.

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