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Former prof used UA facilities to do research for China company, new indictment states

by Jaime Adame | July 30, 2021 at 1:55 p.m.
Simon Ang

FAYETTEVILLE — A former University of Arkansas, Fayetteville professor faces added charges of wire fraud related to his China ties and the use of university research facilities, as well as new charges of making false statements to the FBI.

Simon Ang is set to appear Monday for an arraignment in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville, according to court records.

He was arrested in May of last year and fired by the university less than two months later. Ang joined UA's faculty in 1988 and was director of the university's High Density Electronics Center, or HiDEC.

A superseding grand jury indictment filed in court this week lists a total of 55 counts of wire fraud, plus other charges.

Most counts of wire fraud are the same as stated in an earlier indictment, which described Ang as failing to disclose ties to China and Chinese companies while pursuing NASA and U.S. Air Force research grants.

The latest indictment adds 13 counts of wire fraud.

Ang, in 2018, was part of the ownership group for a China-based company referred to in the court document as "XZENIA," the court document states. The company makes glass coating materials for car windshields and solar panels, according to the indictment.

Ang "used research laboratories and equipment owned by the University of Arkansas to perform research and development for XZINIA," the indictment states.

The new indictment also adds two charges of making false statements, including telling an FBI agent in May 2020 he was not the holder of Chinese patents. The indictment states that Ang is listed as the inventor for "numerous" patents in China.

The court document also includes more description of Ang participating in what are known as Chinese talent programs.

Last year, FBI Director Christopher Wray gave a talk describing such Chinese talent programs as a government effort "to entice scientists to secretly bring our knowledge and innovation back to China."

The U.S. Department of Justice in recent years has pursued economic espionage charges against a few researchers working in the U.S., but no such charges have been filed against Ang.

The recent court filing states that Ang received "large sums of money" from the Chinese government.

The court document describes a portable hard drive with a document saved by Ang stating he received a one-time Thousand Talents Program grant of 1 million yuan. That works out to about $150,000 according to current exchange rate information.

This money was deposited into back accounts controlled by Ang in China, the indictment states.

Ang did not disclose his receipt of this money from the Chinese government to UA or U.S. funding agencies, according to the indictment.

The superseding indictment also lists two charges related to making false statements in applying for a passport.

Ang was released on a $200,000 bond to home detention on May 29, 2020.

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