US Justice Department ‘Turning Up’ Heat on Illicit Export of Cutting-Edge Research to Foreign Countries
(FreightWaves.com) The U.S. Justice Department is turning up the heat on American and foreign scientists working in this country who may illicitly export cutting-edge research to the Chinese government. The key technologies targeted by these countries, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) include biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, nanotechnology, quantum computing, advanced materials, submersible vehicles, acoustic communications and sensors, communications and encryption technology, satellites and spacecraft, and weapons systems.
This week, the US Justice Department announced the arrest of Dr. Charles Lieber, 60, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, on a charge of making a “materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement” regarding his research contracts with the Chinese government. If convicted, Lieber faces a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison. His case will be tried in a federal court in Boston.
BIS officials at the agency’s 2019 Annual Conference on Export Controls in Washington, D.C., last summer said in a presentation that 56 countries use “clandestine and illegal methods” to gather details on U.S. technology, resulting in billions of dollars lost to American companies and research institutions. China and Iran currently top the agency’s list of countries that carry out these activities.
Paul DiVecchio, a 40-year export regulations consultant based in Boston, warned the Harvard case demonstrates the importance that today’s American universities and research institutions have “a robust export compliance program” overseen by “a qualified export compliance officer and staff” that report to the highest level of management.