“China’s government has once again shown its disregard for the rule of law,” FBI Director Wray said.
by Massimo Introvigne
On May 26, a federal court in the Southern District of New York unsealed a complaint charging two individuals with acting in the United States as agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and trying to bribe a IRS (Internal Revenue Service) officer as part of a conspiracy targeting the U.S. branch of Falun Gong.
John Chen, aka Chen Jun, 70, a Los Angeles resident and former citizen of the PRC, and Lin Feng, a Los Angeles resident and PRC citizen, were arrested in California on the same May 26.
The complaint claims that from January 2023 to May 2023, Chen and Feng worked inside the United States at the direction of the Beijing government and intelligence, under a Chinese agent called in the document “Official-1.” They carried out a plan whose aim was “to manipulate the IRS’s Whistleblower Program in an effort to strip the tax-exempt status of an entity run and maintained by Falun Gong practitioners (Entity-1). After Chen filed a defective whistleblower complaint with the IRS (the Chen Whistleblower Complaint), Chen and Feng paid $5,000 in cash bribes, and promised to pay substantially more, to a purported IRS agent who was in fact an undercover officer (Agent-1), in exchange for Agent-1’s assistance in advancing the complaint.”
“In the course of the scheme, the complaint add, 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.’ During a call intercepted pursuant to a judicially authorized wiretap, Chen and Feng discussed receiving ‘direction on the bribery scheme from PRC Official-1, deleting instructions received from PRC Official-1 in order to evade detection, and ‘alert[ing]’ and ‘sound[ing] the alarm’ to PRC Official-1 if Chen and Feng’s meetings to bribe Agent-1 did not go as planned. Chen and Feng also discussed that PRC Official-1 was the PRC Government official ‘in charge’ of the bribery scheme targeting the Falun Gong.”
“As part of this scheme, the document explains, Chen and Feng allegedly met with Agent-1 in Newburgh, New York, on May 14. During the meeting, Chen gave Agent-1 a $1,000 cash bribe as an initial, partial bribe payment. Chen further offered to pay Agent-1 a total of $50,000 for opening an audit of Entity-1, as well as 60% of any whistleblower award from the IRS if the Chen Whistleblower Complaint were successful. On May 18, Feng paid Agent-1 a $4,000 cash bribe at John F. Kennedy International Airport as an additional partial bribe payment in furtherance of the scheme. Chen allegedly obtained funding from the PRC government to make bribe payments during his trips to the PRC in the course of the scheme.”
“The Chinese government has yet again attempted, and failed, to target critics of the PRC here in the United States,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, adding that, “The Justice Department will continue to investigate, disrupt, and prosecute efforts by the PRC government to silence its critics and extend the reaches of its regime onto U.S. soil.”
“China’s government has once again shown its disregard for the rule of law and international norms,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI will not tolerate CCP repression — its efforts to threaten, harass, and intimidate people — here in the United States. We will continue to confront the Chinese government’s efforts to violate our laws and repress the rights and freedoms of people in our country,” he concluded.