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美国逮捕华裔科学家席宁:都是报销惹的祸
美国逮捕华裔科学家席宁:都是报销惹的祸
2018/2/22 3:02:44 | 浏览:4313 | 评论:0

美国逮捕华裔科学家席宁:都是报销惹的祸

报销无小事,

香港大学新兴技术研究所所长席宁涉嫌于2011年至2016年期间,骗取密歇根州立大学及电机电子工程师学会(IEEE)超过42.9万美元,上周四(15日)在大学校园附近被联邦调查局(FBI)以电讯诈骗罪名拘捕。

席宁是密歇根州立大学机器人及自动化实验室的前主管,FBI形容他是在机器人、纳米感应器、智能控制及系统方面的“世界知名专家”。

根据法庭文件,席宁被指于案发的2011-2016年的5年内,以虚假的帐单向校方及IEEE报销旅游等开支,并以所得的金钱主要偿还巨额的信用卡欠款。当地传媒报道,席宁是中国公民,并拥有美国永久居留权。

席宁于1997年起在密歇根州立大学任职,并于2011年初前往香港城市大学任教。他之后致函密歇根州立大学,表明自己不会再于该校工作。对方要求席宁返美,令他要向城大辞职。

席宁于2014年6月返回密歇根州后,校方对他展开内部调查,怀疑他担任第2个终身职位,进行研究的方式“不可接受”,以及在向国家科学基金会申请联邦拨款时,未有透露与中国有关的研究及资助。

席宁被密歇根州立大学停职3周,校方于翌年得悉他已接受在香港的第2个教职,违反该校的规定。FBI表示,席宁当时不配合校方的调查,并于2015年10月辞职。

有消息人士向密歇根州立大学透露,指在香港大学一个网站上,发现席宁获委任为该校的机械人与自动化的首席教授,以及新兴技术研究所所长。

席宁曾于2016年2月返回美国,接受FBI的问话,他当时表示自己为香港大学工作,并否认在申请美国政府的研究拨款时,故意隐瞒任何与外国有关的研究、拨款或薪酬。国家科学基金会则指,席宁在申请表格中,没有披露任何与外国的关系及收入。

报道续指,席宁又向FBI表示,IEEE向他提供多达20万美元报销开支。不过,FBI发现席宁自2009年起,获IEEE给予合共120万美元,而几乎所有帐单都是由另一名中国公民,以及他一名密歇根州立大学博士生签署。香港大学暂未作出回应。

公开资料显示,席宁,男,1959年生,博士,研究员,IEEE Fellow。早年就读于北京五一小学、北京十一学校。1982年1月毕业于北京航空学院(今北京航空航天大学)。

2000年入选中科院百人计划,现任密西根州立大学 John D. Ryder 讲席教授和沈阳自动化所特聘研究员。同时兼任IEEE Nanotechnology Council主席。

以下是底特律媒体的相关报道:

Ex-MSU professor, 'renowned' robotics expert accused of $400K fraud

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - A former Michigan State University professor and widely known robotics expert defrauded MSU and a non-profit institute in New York of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the FBI said in court records.

Dr. Ning Xi is jailed pending a detention hearing Wednesday, Feb. 21, in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

The FBI said he defrauded MSU and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, a non-profit corporation with headquarters in New York, by submitting false claims for reimbursement for travel and other expenses.

"The investigation has assessed more than $429,000 in fraudulent activity associated with the reimbursements from IEEE and MSU paid to Xi between(Jan. 1, 2011 and Jan. 31, 2016)," FBI special agent Bruce Fowler wrote in a criminal complaint.

He said the funds were used to pay "significant credit card debt, primarily to American Express and Chase. The fraudulent activity includes reimbursements obtained by Xi as a result of a receipt being altered, a receipt being completely fabricated, a receipt being purchased and then refunded or voided, or some other material falsehood that was used in Xi's schemed to defraud."

Xi's attorneys, Charles "'Chip" Chamberlain Jr. of Grand Rapids and Peter Zeidenberg of Washington, D.C., had no comment

Fowler began investigating Xi, described as a "world-renowned expert in the field of robotics, nano-sensors and devices, and intelligent control and systems," in 2013, when Xi was a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at MSU. The investigator initially worked to determine if Xi obtained research grants by the National Science Foundation by fraud.

The investigation showed that Xi had defrauded MSU and the IEEE, a prestigious international organization with over 420,000 engineers worldwide, Fowler wrote in the complaint.

Xi is a citizen of China, a permanent resident of the U.S. and former Okemos resident, the FBI agent said.

Xi started at MSU in 1997 and eventually became a Distinguished Professor and Director of the Robotics and Automation Laboratory. In early 2011, he went on sabbatical and took a position at City University of Hong Kong, or CUHK. Xi became a tenured professor at CUHK, which provided MSU with a letter say he no longer worked at MSU. MSU demanded he return, prompting Xi to resign from the Hong Kong university and return to East Lansing in June 2014.

"MSU conducted an internal investigation of Xi's activities, and concluded that he had committed 'unacceptable research practice' by assuming a second tenured position, as well as failing to disclose his Chinese affiliations, research and funding in federal grant applications he had submitted to the(National Science Foundation), and suspended him without pay for three weeks in the Fall of 2014," Fowler said.

The next year, MSU learned that Xi had since accepted a second position in Hong Kong, in violation of its policy. Fowler said Xi was "uncooperative" when questioned by MSU, and resigned in October 2015.

A confidential source at MSU told the FBI agent that a website for University of Hong Kong showed he was appointed both Chair Professor of Robotics and Automation and Director of the Emerging Technologies Institute, records said. When Xi returned to the U.S. in February 2016, he was interviewed by the FBI. He said he worked for the University of Hong Kong.

"Xi denied that he had ever intentionally omitted disclosing any foreign research affiliations, funding, or foreign salary when he applied for U.S. Government research grants, and stated that if he had forgotten to include any such information,(the National Science Foundation)should have known he was working with another foreign agency because this information was 'in the applications,'" Fowler wrote.

The National Science Foundation said Xi had not disclosed foreign affiliations and income in his grant applications, Fowler said.

Xi told FBI agents he received $100,000 to $200,000 reimbursements from IEEE, from many people involved in the organization. But Fowler said Xi received $1.2 million from IEEE since 2009, with almost all of the checks signed by another Chinese citizen and one of his former doctoral students at MSU who now works at Oklahoma State University.

Fowler also found irregularities in Xi's request for travel and other expenses as the conference chairman of the IEEE's annual International Conference on Robotics and Automation, he said. Xi organized about nine such conferences, IEEE legal counsel determined, Fowler said.

Despite leaving MSU, Xi continued to seek past travel expenses from MSU, leading to a review of the requests.

The FBI looked at ticket numbers, booking codes, airline information and credit-card records.

"My review of those documents determined that a significant percentage of the receipts that Xi had submitted to MSU as justification for travel reimbursements appeared to have been fabricated, were for charges that had already been refunded to Xi's credit cards by various airlines, were for fares that had been exchanged for different flights, and/or were for expenses that had already been reimbursed by IEEE," Fowler wrote.

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