A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employee from Michigan has been charged with making false claims about his contact with Taiwan’s navy and falsifying his documents while applying for a security clearance.
Chu Yifei, also known as Philip Chu, was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents after alleged falsehoods were uncovered by a counterintelligence probe.
Mr. Chu applied for a “Secret” level security clearance in December 2020 as part of an application to work for the Office of Navy Research Global in an assignment to the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.
FBI investigators uncovered alleged falsehoods in “in his security clearance application, during an interview with federal background investigators, and in an affidavit he signed regarding his security clearance application,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Mr. Chu, who hails from Ypsilanti, is accused of failing to disclose contacts with the Taiwanese navy and a Taiwanese company.
The purported omissions include Mr. Chu’s paid work for the company on a classified project for Taiwan’s navy, and consultations made in multiple meetings at a Taiwanese naval base.
The consultations coincide with Mr. Chu’s previous employment with the U.S. Navy, which predated his work at NOAA.
Mr. Chu is also accused by authorities of keeping and using his Taiwanese citizenship after signing paperwork in 2008 renouncing it. Among other things, Mr. Chu is accused of living in Taiwan for 11 months from 2020 into 2021.
“They believed Chu worked remotely from his residence in Michigan during the 11-month period he was in Taiwan,” the FBI wrote in a criminal complaint cited by The Detroit News.
If convicted on the charge of making false statements, Mr. Chu faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
If convicted on the charge of falsifying records in a federal investigation, Mr. Chu faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.