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Criminal Complaint against Three New-York Based Researchers

Drexel’s Office of Research seeks to minimize risks to members of its research community and to the University through education. The following describes the undesirable consequences of disclosing non-public information and falsifying information:

On Monday 5/20/13, the Manhattan US Attorney and FBI Asst. Director-in-Charge filed a criminal complaint against three NY-based, university researchers for conspiring to receive bribes from a Chinese company and a Chinese government-supported research institute. The non-public information, partially resulting from federally-supported, university research sponsored by NIH, was allegedly transmitted to the Chinese entities for their personal financial benefit.

Original article.

From a Conflict of Interest Perspective…

The three researchers failed to disclose their relationships with a Chinese company and a Chinese government-sponsored research institute, from which they were gaining a financial benefit. One of the researchers, who was required by the University policy to submit conflict of interest forms, provided intentional misrepresentations to conceal his interests. In addition to concealing the above-mentioned relationships, he concealed the fact that he owned a patent, which was related to the MRI technology that was investigated under the NIH grant and which could financially benefit from said research.

As a result of their noncompliance, all three researchers were charged with commercial bribery conspiracy, having a sentence of up to 5 years in prison. Further, the researcher, who provided intentional misrepresentations, was charged with falsification of records for an NIH grant, having a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

In this case, the nondisclosure was intentional; however, even if it were inadvertent, the potential exists for negative monetary, reputational, or legal repercussions for the individual and the University. For additional information, Office of Research recommends that researchers:

  1. Read and understand the University's Conflict of Interest Policy and related materials (e.g. Required Training Presentation);
  2. Contact Office of Research to ask questions to solidify your understanding; and
  3. When in doubt, err on the side of disclosure.

From an Export Control Perspective…

The researchers were conducting research to advance important MRI technologies, which may have generated intellectual property for the university involved. Although the NIH-sponsored research may have qualified under the fundamental research exclusion, the transmission of the resulting technologies and intellectual property may have been subject to export controls.

For further information on Export Controls, please visit the following page.

For further details on the above news article, please visit the following page.

For any additional questions or concerns, please contact:

Julie Ford
Manager of Cost Studies/Export Control Officer
Phone: 215.895.2947
Fax: 215.895.0864

Jessica Lee
Financial Compliance Analyst - Conflict of Interest
Phone: 215.895.6205
Fax: 215.895.0864