A former Cleveland Clinic employee was arrested Wednesday, and charged with false claims and wire fraud related to more than $3.6 million in grant funding he and his research group received from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
Dr. Qing Wang was arrested without incident by law enforcement and had his first court appearance on Thursday, May 14.
According to the criminal complaint, Wang knowingly failed to disclose to NIH an affiliation with Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), where he held the position of Dean of the College of Life Sciences and Technology. He received grant funds from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (CNSF) for some of the same scientific research funded by the NIH grant, according to the release. His false representations led NIH to award grants to Wang and his research group at the Clinic.
"The National Institutes of Health (NIH) raised concerns to Cleveland Clinic whether Dr. Qing Wang appropriately disclosed foreign research ties to China," the clinic said in a statement. "Cleveland Clinic conducted an internal review into these matters. Based on the results of that review, Dr. Wang's employment at the Cleveland Clinic was terminated."
Wang also allegedly participated in the Thousand Talents Program, which was established by the Chinese government to recruit individuals who have access to or knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property, according to the release. As a result of his admission into the program, China provided $3 million in research support to enhance facilities and operations at HUST, according to the release. He also received free travel and lodging for trips to China, including a three-bedroom apartment on campus for personal use. This occurred while Wang was receiving NIH grant funds and failed to disclose this affiliation to the NIH, according to the release.
Cleveland Clinic statement notes that the system has "cooperated fully" with both the NIH and federal law enforcement and will continue to do so.
"Cleveland Clinic takes seriously its obligations to be a good steward of the federal research funds entrusted to us," the statement reads. "Cleveland Clinic appreciates the commitment by the NIH and federal law enforcement to the integrity and security of research being conducted by the academic community across the country."
This case was investigated by the Cleveland Division of the FBI and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office — Northern District of Ohio. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio and FBI Cleveland Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith announced the arrest on Thursday, May 14.
"Former Cleveland Clinic employee arrested, charged with false claims, wire fraud" originally appeared in Crain's Cleveland Business.