Two US residents federally charged in New York with China-directed bribery scheme
The individuals allegedly met with an undercover agent in New York to conduct bribery deals.
Two U.S. residents accused of acting as unregistered agents for the Chinese government were charged in New York earlier this week on bribery and money laundering counts.
John Chen and Lin Feng were arrested Friday in Los Angeles, California. They were charged with conspiring to bribe a public official and conspiracy to commit money laundering in an attempt to target people who participate in the spiritual practice of Falun Gong, allegedly at the direction of the People’s Republic of China.
"John Chen and Lin Feng allegedly waged a campaign at the behest of the Government of the People’s Republic of China to influence a U.S. Government official in order to further the PRC Government’s repression of practitioners of Falun Gong," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement included in a Department of Justice press release.
"Efforts to manipulate and use the arms of the U.S. Government to carry out the PRC Government’s autocratic aims are as shocking as they are insidious," the statement continued. "My Office will work vigorously to protect against malign foreign influences."
Feng is a Chinese citizen and Chen is a former Chinese citizen. Both live in Los Angeles.
They allegedly met with an undercover agent in New York to conduct bribery deals, according to Fox News.
The plan involved filing a whistleblower complaint with the IRS that they hoped would lead to an audit that would result in the entity being stripped of its tax exempt status. They paid an undercover agent posing as an IRS agent $5,000 earlier this month with promises to pay more than $50,000 if the agent's efforts resulted in opening an audit.
"In the course of the scheme," according to the DOJ release, "Chen, on a recorded call, explicitly noted that the purpose of paying these bribes, which were directed and funded by the PRC government, was to carry out the PRC government’s aim of 'toppl[ing] . . . the Falun Gong.'"
“The Chinese government has yet again attempted, and failed, to target critics of the PRC here in the United States,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.