- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Federal charges continue to mount against the former chairman of Harvard University’s chemistry department who was indicted earlier this year for allegedly lying to investigators about his ties to a controversial Chinese talent recruitment program.

The Justice Department on Tuesday filed its third indictment against Charles Lieber, 61. This time prosecutors say he failed to report foreign bank accounts with the IRS.

Mr. Lieber was charged in January with failing to disclose his ties to China’s Thousand Talents Plan to the Defense Department in an alleged scheme to secure more than $18 million in U.S. taxpayer-funded research grants.

Last month, prosecutors filed additional counts against Mr. Lieber, alleging he made false statements to investigators about the recruitment initiative.

Now the Justice Department says he shielded income he earned from the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) from the IRS.

Under the terms of Mr. Lieber’s three-year contract with the Thousand Talents Program, WUT allegedly paid him a $50,000 per month salary, living expenses of $150,000 and awarded him more than $1.5 million to build a research lab.

Prosecutors say in tax years 2013 and 2014, Mr. Lieber did not report his income from WUT or the Thousand Talents contracts. They also accuse him of opening a bank account in China in 2012 where some of Mr. Lieber’s salary was deposited between 2013 and 2015.

Under federal law, U.S. taxpayers must disclose the existence of any foreign bank accounts.

Mr. Lieber is charged with two counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. If convicted on the tax charges, he could face up to five years in prison on each charge.

He already faces prison sentences over the earlier charges.

The Trump administration has accused the Thousand Talents Plan of being a front to steal U.S. intellectual property and research.

Mr. Lieber’s attorney said last month the government has it wrong and vowed that his client will be vindicated.

“Professor Lieber has dedicated his life to science and to his students. Not money, not fame, just his science and his students,” attorney Marc Mukasey said in a statement issued last month.

“He is the victim in this case, not the perpetrator. But he’s also a fighter — he always has been — so we’re not taking this lying down. We’re fighting back. And when justice is done, Charlie’s good name will be restored and the scientific community again will be able to benefit from his intellect and passion,” the statement continued.

Mr. Lieber was placed on administrative leave after he was charged earlier this year. The new charge carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.—

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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