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NOAA employee from Michigan allegedly concealed ties to Taiwan to obtain security clearance

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)

An employee of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been charged in federal court after he allegedly lied about his connections to military and business contacts in Taiwan.

Yifei Chu, also known as Philip Chu, 57, of Ypsilanti, has been charged with making false statements and falsification of records in a federal investigation, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced Tuesday.

The charges carry maximum sentences of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, and 20-years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, respectively.

According to the criminal complaint unsealed in Detroit on Tuesday, Chu, a naturalized U.S. citizen and current NOAA employee, had recently applied for a three-year detailed assignment to the United States Embassy in Singapore working for the United States Navy in the Office of Naval Research Global.

To obtain this position, Chu was required to apply for and obtain a “Secret” security clearance. According to prosecutors, Chu made several false statements in his security clearance application, during an interview with federal background investigators, and in an affidavit he signed regarding his security clearance application.

Chu’s false statements included his failure to disclose extensive contacts with members of the Taiwanese Navy and a Taiwanese company, including the fact that Chu was hired by the Tiwanese company to provide consulting services on a “classified” Taiwanese Navy project.

He also met with members of the Taiwanese Navy on a military base in Taiwan multiple times where he provided consulting services related to work he did during a period of employment with United States Navy, which predated his work at NOAA, prosecutors said.

Chu also sought to conceal the fact that he is still a citizen of Taiwan, according to prosecutors.

The investigation of this case was conducted by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ronald Waterstreet and Michael Martin.


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