University of Arkansas professor indicted for wire fraud, passport fraud

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.- A professor with the University of Arkansas has been indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of wire fraud and two counts of passport fraud.

According to a news release sent Wednesday from Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas David Clay Fowlkes, Simon Saw-Teong Ang, 63, of Fayetteville, was a professor and researcher at the University of Arkansas since 1988.

Ang also served as the Director of the High Density Electronics Center (HiDEC) until around May 8, 2020.

According to the Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, Ang was the investigator and co-investigator from many grant contracts that were funding by United States Government Agencies while he was employed with the university and director of HiDEC.

The University of Arkansas required Ang to disclose any conflicts of interest, including outside employment, each year.

FBI agents discovered Ang received money and benefits from China and was closely associated with companies based in China during the same time he was receiving grants from United State Government Agencies.

Agents found Ang did not disclose the conflicts of interest, even when he was specifically required to do so by the University of Arkansas and NASA, one of the agencies that awarded Ang and his research associates a Federal grant.

“This case is the result of the tireless efforts of our Federal law enforcement partners at the FBI and the Diplomatic Security Service, stated Acting US Attorney Fowlkes.” “The wire fraud, in this case, affected not only the University of Arkansas, but also several other important United States Government Agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Air Force. It is our sincere hope that this investigation sends a strong message to those who would attempt to defraud the Federal Government.”

“Transparency and integrity have long sustained the pursuit of knowledge on America’s campuses,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “Mr. Ang is alleged to have demonstrated neither when he failed to disclose his financial and other ties to companies and institutions in China to the University of Arkansas and to U.S. government agencies, despite an obligation to do so. This is a hallmark of China’s targeting of research and academic collaborations within the United States in order to obtain U.S. technology illegally. The Department of Justice will continue to work with colleges and universities to protect U.S. research and development from exploitation by foreign powers and will prosecute those who defraud the U.S. Government.”

According to the indictment, Ang knowingly and willfully devised a scheme and artifice to defraud and obtain money and property from unknowing United States Government Agencies, the University of Arkansas and other government authorities from June 9, 2013, until around May 8, 2020.

Ang also faces two charges of making false statements on a passport renewal application. According to the indictment, Ang knowingly made a false statement in an application for a passport by saying he was not known by any names other than “Simon Saw-Teong Ang”. Ang also listed immediate travel plans to be a trip to Singapore from August 30, 2019, to September 7, 2019, which he knew to be false, according to the indictment.

If convicted, Ang faces a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count and 10 years in federal prison for each passport fraud count. If convicted, Ang’s sentence will be determined by the court.

“The significant federal charges leveled against Simon Ang demonstrate how real the PRC’s pervasive threat is to Arkansan innovation and businesses,” said FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch. “Our counterintelligence agents work tirelessly to protect our state’s economy from foreign adversaries. Throughout this investigation, we were proud to partner with the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, NASA’s Office of Inspector General, the Diplomatic Security Service and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Arkansas.”

The FBI, U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), NASA Office of Inspector General and Air Force Office of Special Investigations are investigating the case. Fowlkes and trail attorneys Michael Eaton and Ali Ahmad from the National Security Division are prosecuting the case.

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