Harvard, Yale under federal investigation for shady foreign gifts

The probe is part of an ongoing federal effort to get to the bottom of billions in undisclosed foreign gifts at colleges across the country.

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating Harvard and Yale after the Ivy League institutions failed to report millions in foreign gifts.

The Department of Education has opened an investigation into the millions of dollars in foreign funding going to Harvard and Yale Universities.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Department of Education is continuing a review that American colleges did not disclose $6.5 billion in foreign funding, including monies from China and Saudi Arabia.  

In a letter to Harvard, the Department of Education asked the Ivy League institution to disclose all information regarding gifts and connections to China, Iran, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. The Department of Education also asked Harvard to disclose any connections it may have to Huawei and ZTE, two Chinese telecommunications companies, and Kaspersky Labs, the Russian cybersecurity firm.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Huawei has been accessing mobile phone networks around the world through “back door” methods traditionally used by law enforcement.

[RELATED: Harvard’s China ties are even stronger than you thought]

“If colleges and universities are accepting foreign money and gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know how much and from whom. Moreover, it’s what the law requires. Unfortunately, the more we dig, the more we find that too many are underreporting or not reporting at all. We will continue to hold colleges and universities accountable and work with them to ensure their reporting is full, accurate, and transparent, as required by the law,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said.

As reported by the Harvard Crimson, the Department of Education’s letter is part of an ongoing investigation into American universities and their connections to foreign governments, a probe that has so far yielded the revelation that at least ten U.S. colleges- Cornell University, Yale University, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Texas- MD Anderson Cancer Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, Texas A&M University, and Carnegie Mellon University - previously did not disclose billions of dollars in foreign funding. 

Harvard is not alone in this investigation. Yale has also been subject to the federal investigation for failing to report $375 million in foreign funding between 2014 and 2017. Federal authorities have said that this is an effort to combat the “ongoing threat” of China using “nontraditional collections” such as researchers and academics to steal technology, according to CNN

[RELATED: REPORT: Feds scrutinize Ivy League’s foreign dealings]

The Wall Street Journal reported that a Harvard spokesman said the university is preparing a statement. A Yale spokesman has yet to comment.

The investigation comes two weeks after Harvard’s former chair of the Department of Chemistry Charles Lieber was arrested for allegedly lying to federal authorities about his connections to China, including a lucrative contract he allegedly had with the Wuhan University of Technology, an institution located in Wuhan, China, which has recently been scrutinized for being the center of the coronavirus outbreak

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