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Officers and Operators of Upstate New York R&D Firm Plead Guilty in Connection with Federally Funded Research Grant Fraud

On February 2, 2018, Bin Wen, chief scientist and vice president of United Environment & Energy, LLC (UEE) and owner of KEW Technologies, Inc. (KEW), pleaded guilty in the Western District of New York to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. His wife, Peng Zhang, UEE’s president, pleaded guilty to conspiracy. They also agreed to forfeit nearly $5 million in assets derived from their criminal activity.

Wen and Zhang were arrested on February 24, 2016, and charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, false claims, wire fraud, and money laundering. Between June 2010 and February 2016, through their various business entities, they engaged in a scheme to defraud the Federal Government of approximately $9 million in research contract and grant funds distributed by DOT, Department of Energy (DOE), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). They submitted fabricated letters of support and investment from sham investment companies and nonexistent individuals; provided false information in research proposals and reports regarding business entities, employees, and facilities; and provided false reports and emails about how the Federal research funds were expended. The investigation identified fraudulent submissions on a contract valued at nearly $1 million for FHWA’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program. 

Wen, Zhang, Haifang Wen (Bin Wen’s brother), UEE, and KEW were suspended from receiving Federal contracts and grant monies on July 27, 2016. 

DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with NSF-OIG, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, DOE-OIG, USDA-OIG, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.