CLARKSBURG, W.Va (WDTV) – A former professor at West Virginia University admitted to defrauding the university and filing false tax returns, both offenses arising out of his travel to China, federal prosecutors said.
Qingyun Sun, 58, of Morgantown pleaded guilty to a two count information charging him with wire fraud and filing a false tax return, according to a news release US Attorney Bill Powell’s office. Sun was a Chinese national employed by WVU as an associate professor and associate director of the United States-China Energy Center at the university.
As part of his employment with the university, Sun also acted as the Governor’s assistant for China affairs, according to Powell. He was also employed by Synfuels Americas Corporation, an energy conversion technology provider of coal-to-liquids and gas-to-liquids processes located in Sterling, Virginia. The company was headquartered in Beijing.
From July 2011 to May 2015, St. Louis based Peabody Energy Generation Holding Company paid consulting fees to Energy United LC, a consulting business Sun established in 2005, the news release states. The scheme involved Sun’s operation of his consulting business through Energy United.
In 2015, traveled to China on on behalf WVU and the West Virginia Development Office, Powell’s office said. He went to China to prepare for an upcoming visit to the country by WVU representatives and to lead a state industrial delegation for a coal expo in Beijing.
Powell said Sun booked both a coach flight and business class flight for the trip. He submitted a request for reimbursement to WVU for the coach flight, and submitting a request for reimbursement to Synfuels Americas for the business flight.
He only used the business class ticket for his trip.
In 2014, Sun filed a joint income tax return with his wife, grossly overstating his business-related travel expenses, Powell’s office said. A large sum of those travel expenses were paid for by a State Purchasing Card, or reimbursed to him by WVU and Peabody Energy.
Powell said Sun also failed to state any financial interest in a financial account in another country. He had an interest in numerous accounts in China.
Sun is no longer an employee at WVU.
As a part of the plea agreement, Sun agreed to pay restitution in over $6,200 to WVU, the news release states.
Sun faces up to 20 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000 for wire fraud and faces up to three years of incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000 for tax fraud.
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