CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- A mathematics professor and researcher at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale (SIUC) is under federal indictment for grant fraud.
Mingqing Xiao, 59, of Makanda, is accused of fraudulently obtaining $151,099 in federal grant money from the National Science Foundation (NSF) by concealing support he was receiving from an arm of the Chinese government and a Chinese public university.
Xiao is charged with two counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement.
According to the indictment, Xiao has worked in SIUC’s mathematics department since 2000, focusing his research on partial differential equations, control theory, optimization theory, dynamical systems, and computational science.
In that position, Xiao (who is an American citizen) allegedly applied for and received NSF grant funds for a project set to run from 2019 to 2022 without informing NSF about another, overlapping grant he had already received from the NSF of Guangdong Province, China. Xiao also allegedly failed to inform NSF that he was on the payroll of Shenzhen University, a public university in Guangdong Province, and that he had already committed to teaching and conducting research at Shenzhen University from 2018 to 2023.
Xiao is charged with falsely certifying to SIUC that his NSF grant proposal was true, complete, and accurate. The indictment also accuses Xiao of falsely reporting to NSF that he had nothing else to disclose.
The defendant’s initial court appearance has not yet been scheduled. If convicted, Xiao faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of wire fraud and 5 years in prison for making a false statement. All three charges are also punishable by a fine of up to $250,000.
SIU released a statement saying Mingqing Xiao is going to be placed on administrative leave, pending the university's investigation into the issue.
The prosecution is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing China Initiative. The Justice Department’s National Security Division (NSD) says the China Initiative is an effort to safeguard American intellectual property and research programs and counter the multi-faceted threat posed by the PRC government to U.S. national security.
“Again, an American professor stands accused of enabling the Chinese government’s efforts to corruptly benefit from U.S. research funding by lying about his obligations to, and support from, an arm of the Chinese government and a Chinese public university,” said John C. Demers, Assistant
Attorney General for National Security. “Honesty and transparency about funding sources lie at the heart of the scientific research enterprise. They enable U.S. agencies to distribute scarce grants for scientific research fairly and equitably. And they allow other researchers to evaluate potential conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment. When researchers fall short of fulfilling these core academic values in ways that violate the law, the Department stands ready to investigate and prosecute.”
FBI-Springfield, the IRS, and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter T. Reed is prosecuting the case, with assistance from NSD’s Counterintelligence & Export Section.Xiao-Indictment