Biden appointee's alleged ties to Chinese intel groups is legal risk: Report

 February 22, 2023

Multiple legal experts have suggested that an investigation should be launched into the appointee chosen by President Joe Biden to represent U.S. business interests in Asia, due to his alleged connections to a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligence front group.

According to the Daily Caller News Foundation, Dominic Ng, CEO of East West Bank, may be required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and could have potentially violated The Espionage Act (TEA).

These findings were based on a review of relevant statutes by legal experts, who were responding to the DCNF's recent investigation revealing that Ng had held leadership positions in two organizations identified as CCP intelligence front groups by China experts.

Experts' Take

“It may be prudent for the Biden administration to suspend or put on hold this appointment of Mr. Ng,” Morse Tan, dean of Liberty University’s School of Law, told the DCNF.

“An investigation should be engaged in to determine what is going on here because there could be U.S. interests that are at stake that could be damaged, and also advantage given to the Chinese Communist Party, who is well known to be engaged in espionage, intelligence gathering and other such things within the United States.”

On Friday, East West Bank acknowledged that its CEO, Dominic Ng, had held an "executive director" position in the China Overseas Exchange Association (COEA).

They described it as an "honorary position" and claimed that Ng withdrew from the organization in 2014 due to a lack of participation.

This statement was in response to an investigation by the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF), which found that Ng served as an executive director at COEA between 2013 and 2017, and later held a five-year position with the same title at the China Overseas Friendship Association (COFA) in 2019.

Several Chinese intelligence experts, including former CIA officer Nicholas Eftimiades, have identified both COEA and COFA as front groups for the United Front Work Department (UFWD), which is a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) agency responsible for overseeing intelligence and influence operations.

This information is based on reports from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC).

Recommended Action

“He should be immediately removed from APEC — at least until a proper FBI investigation clears Ng of any such involvement,” Eric Early, managing partner at the law firm of Early, Sullivan, Wright, Gizer & McRae, told the DCNF.

After the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) published its investigative report, a letter was sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray on February 15th, signed by six Republican members of Congress led by Representative Lance Gooden of Texas. The letter called for an investigation into Dominic Ng to assess the "extent of Mr. Ng's knowledge of sensitive information."

In addition to being suspended from APEC, Ng should also be required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), according to Tan, who made the suggestion during an interview with the DCNF.

“[FARA] is for U.S. individuals that are agents of a foreign principal — the foreign principal here being the Chinese Communist Party,” said Tan. “[Ng] was involved as the executive director for a couple of front organizations, which both merged into one, and had extensive interactions with the CCP — sometimes high-ranking CCP individuals.”

“In terms of whether or not [Ng] was an ‘agent’ there seems to be a broad understanding of what ‘agent’ means under [FARA] and includes all individuals acting in a political or quasi-political capacity,” Tan told the DCNF.

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