SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - The FBI confirmed former Cleveland Clinic employee Dr. Qing Wang was arrested on Wednesday after being charged with false claims and wire fraud related to more than $3.6 million in grant funding that Dr. Wang and his Cleveland Clinic Foundation research group received from the National Institutes of Health.
According to the FBI, the criminal complaint states Dr. Wang knowingly failed to disclose to NIH that he was affiliated with the Huazhong University of Science and Technology as their Dean of College of Life Sciences and Technology.
The criminal complaint also stated he failed to disclose that he received multiple grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China for some of the same scientific research that was funded by the NIH grant.
Dr. Wang’s false representations and promises then led LIH to approve and fund grants to Dr. Wang and his CCF research group, according to the criminal complaint.
The FBI said the criminal complaint also alleges that Dr. Wang participated in the Thousand Talents Program, which was established by the Chinese government to recruit individuals with access to or knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property.
His admission into the TTP resulted in China providing $3 million in research support to enhance the facilities and operations at the HUST Key Lab, according to the criminal complaint.
The criminal complaint further states that Dr. Wang received free travel and lodging for his trips to China, including a three-bedroom apartment on campus for his personal use.
This also occurred at the time he was receiving NIH grant funds, yet he failed to disclose this affiliation to the NIH as well, according to the criminal complaint.
This case was reportedly investigated by the Cleveland Division of the FBI, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and assisted by Cleveland Clinic officials.
"As this case demonstrates, Chinese government-supported talent plans continue to encourage people, regardless of nationality, to commit crimes, such as fraud to obtain U.S. taxpayer-funded research," said Robert R. Wells, acting assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. "The FBI and our partners will continue to rigorously investigate these illegal activities to protect our government, educational, and research institutions.”
"This is not a case of simple omission,” said FBI Cleveland Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. “Dr. Wang deliberately failed to disclose his Chinese grants and foreign positions and even engaged in a pervasive pattern of fraud to avoid criminal culpability. The collective efforts of the FBI, HHS-OIG, and Cleveland Clinic officials demonstrate our commitment to hold those like Dr. Wang accountable."
“As alleged in the complaint, this defendant misled the National Institutes of Health about support he received and research he conducted in the People’s Republic of China,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio. “Federal law enforcement remains vigilant to fraudulent claims for grant support from any researcher who fails to disclose support from foreign governments and competing research interests in other countries. We appreciate the cooperation of this defendant’s former employer, the Cleveland Clinic, in the investigation and highlight the important partnerships between federal agencies, law enforcement, and the private sector demonstrated in this case.”
The Northern District of Ohio Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.
The FBI said law enforcement arrested him without incident at approximately 12:30 p.m.