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Posted: Nov 11, 2019 9:59 AMUpdated: Nov 11, 2019 9:59 AM

Tan Awaits Trial, a Nation Wide Investigation Ensues

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Garrett Giles

Even as a Chinese National remains jailed in Tulsa on charges of attempting to steal nearly $1 billion in Phillips 66 battery storage secrets in Bartlesville, it is being reported that the federal government has nearly 200 other investigations underway at major academic centers in the United States.

According to the New York Times, The National Institute for Health and the FBI launched their effort to locate scientists who reportedly are stealing biomedical research for other countries from U.S. institutions. Nearly all of those uncovered or are under investigation are scientists of Chinese descent including naturalized American citizens who are accused of stealing for China.

Representatives of at least three major medical research centers in Oklahoma say to their knowledge no such FBI investigations focus on them or their researchers. But they have been notified of the nationwide investigation. These institutions include the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and the OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa.

Hongjin Tan (pictured) was arrested in December 2018 in Bartlesville. He worked at the Phillips 66 Research and Technology Center and he is being accused of stealing battery storage research material which had a product value of $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion.

Federal prosecutors say email exchanges revealed Hongjin Tan was allegedly going to sell the information to a company in China. Trial dates have been rescheduled at least three to four different times and at last word, court records showed a new date will be set sometime in January 2020. Trial dates have been rescheduled at least three to four different times and at last word, court records showed a new date will be set sometime in January 2020.

The Times has reported that at least 71 institutions, some of the most prestigious medical schools in the country are reported to be looking into 180 individual cases involving potential theft of intellectual property. So far, the N.I.H. has referred 24 cases in which there may be evidence of criminal activity to the inspector general’s office of the Department of Health and Human Services, which may turn over the cases for criminal prosecution.

The alleged theft involves not military secrets, but scientific ideas, designs, devices, data and methods that may lead to profitable new treatments or diagnostic tools.

Some researchers under investigation have obtained patents in China on work funded by the United States government and owned by American institutions, the N.I.H. said. Others are suspected of setting up labs in China that secretly duplicated American research, according to government officials and university administrators.

(Photo and information courtesy of: OK Energy Today)


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