Former Harvard Chemistry Chair Sentenced for Lying About China Ties


The former Chair of Harvard University's Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was sentenced in federal court in Boston today for lying to federal authorities about his affiliation with China's Thousand Talents Program and Wuhan University of Technology (WUT), as well as failing to report income he received from WUT.

Charles Lieber, 64 was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel to time served (two days) in prison, two years of supervised release with six months of home confinement, a fine of $50,000, and $33,600 in restitution to the IRS. The government had recommended a 90-day prison sentence and a $150,000 fine.

Lieber was convicted in December 2021 by a federal jury on charges of making false statements to federal authorities, making and subscribing a false income tax return, and failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts (FBAR) with the IRS. He had served as the Principal Investigator of the Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, which conducted over $15 million in research sponsored by U.S. Government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), between 2008 and 2019.

Without the knowledge of Harvard University, Lieber became a "Strategic Scientist" at WUT and later, a participant in China's Thousand Talents Plan from at least 2012 through 2015. This plan was designed to attract, recruit, and cultivate high-level scientific talent for China's scientific development, economic prosperity, and national security. Lieber falsely denied his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan during an interview with DOD agents in April 2018 and caused Harvard to falsely inform the NIH in January 2019 that he had never participated in the program.

Lieber signed a Thousand Talents contract with WUT in 2012, which entitled him to a substantial salary and research funding. He failed to disclose the income he received from WUT in 2013 and 2014 on his federal income tax returns and purposely failed to file FBARs for those years, despite having a Chinese bank account with a balance of approximately $200,000.


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