(This is a cross-post from Steptoe’s new Investigations and Enforcement Blog.)
Federal prosecutors recently brought new indictments against U.S. academics in two separate cases involving alleged unreported ties to China. The Department of Justice moved forward its cases against the Harvard and University of Arkansas-affiliated professors as part of a broader push to combat what Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers referred to as “China’s targeting of research and academic collaborations within the United States in order to obtain U.S. technology illegally.”
The number of these cases and prosecutors’ aggressive approaches illustrate the seriousness of the Department of Justice’s focus on investigating and prosecuting unreported ties between U.S. academics and Chinese institutions. Aside from the risk to individual academics, American colleges and universities also face significant reputational and financial risks. It is more important than ever that colleges and universities understand these risks, craft and maintain robust compliance programs, conduct thorough (but cost-efficient) investigations, and effectively navigate the complex issues of disclosure and cooperation with DOJ and other relevant agencies.