FBI Employee Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Acting In The United States As An Agent Of The Chinese Government
Kun Shan Chun, a/k/a “Joey Chun,” Provided Sensitive FBI Information to the Chinese Government
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that Kun Shan Chun, a/k/a “Joey Chun,” pled guilty to a criminal Information charging him with acting in the United States as an agent of the People’s Republic of China (“China”), without providing prior notice to the Attorney General. CHUN, an employee of the FBI, pled guilty earlier today before United States Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Americans who act as unauthorized foreign agents commit a federal offense that betrays our nation and threatens our security. And when the perpetrator is an FBI employee, like Kun Shan Chun, the threat is all the more serious and the betrayal all the more duplicitous. Thanks to the excellent investigative work of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, the FBI succeeded in identifying and rooting out this criminal misconduct from within its own ranks.”
Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin said: “Kun Shan Chun violated our nation’s trust by exploiting his official U.S. Government position to provide restricted and sensitive FBI information to the Chinese Government. Holding accountable those who work as illegal foreign agents to the detriment of the United States is among the highest priorities of the National Security Division.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said: “No one is above the law, to include employees of the FBI. We understand as an agency we are trusted by the public to protect our nation's most sensitive information, and we have to do everything in our power to uphold that trust.”
According to the Complaint, the Information, and statements made during today’s court proceeding:
CHUN, a native of China and a naturalized citizen of the United States, began working at the FBI’s New York Field Office in approximately 1997, as an electronics technician assigned to the Computerized Central Monitoring Facility of the FBI’s Technical Branch. In approximately 1998, and in connection with his employment, the FBI granted CHUN a top secret security clearance, and his duties included accessing sensitive, and in some instances, classified information. As discussed in more detail below, in connection with a progressive recruitment process, CHUN received and responded to requests from Chinese nationals and at least one Chinese government official (“Chinese Official-1”), some (if not all) of whom were aware that CHUN worked at the FBI. On multiple occasions prior to his arrest in March 2016, CHUN collected sensitive FBI information and caused it to be transmitted to Chinese Official-1 and others, while at the same time engaging in a prolonged and concerted effort to conceal from the FBI his illicit relationships with these individuals.
CHUN’s Purported Consulting for Zhuhai Kolion Technology Company Ltd.
Beginning in 2006, CHUN and certain of his relatives maintained relationships with Chinese nationals purporting to be affiliated with a company in China named Zhuhai Kolion Technology Company Ltd. (“Kolion”). CHUN maintained an indirect financial interest in Kolion, including through a previous investment by one of his relatives. In connection with these relationships, Chinese nationals asked CHUN to perform research and consulting tasks in the United States, purportedly for the benefit of Kolion, in exchange for financial benefits, including partial compensation for international trips.
Between 2006 and 2010, CHUN’s communications and other evidence reflect inquiries to CHUN from purported employees of Kolion while CHUN was in the United States, as well as efforts by CHUN to collect, among other things, information regarding solid-state hard drives.
CHUN’s Relationship with Chinese Official-1
In approximately 2011, during a trip to Italy and France, Chinese nationals introduced CHUN to Chinese Official-1. Chinese Official-1 indicated that he worked for the Chinese government, and that he knew CHUN worked for the FBI. During subsequent private meetings conducted abroad between CHUN and Chinese Official-1, Chinese Official-1 asked questions about sensitive, nonpublic FBI information. During those meetings, CHUN disclosed, among other things, the identity and potential travel patterns of an FBI Special Agent.
In approximately 2012, the FBI conducted a routine investigation relating to CHUN’s top secret security clearance. In an effort to conceal his relationships with Chinese Official-1 and the other Chinese nationals purporting to be affiliated with Kolion, CHUN repeatedly lied on a standardized form related to the security-clearance investigation. During the period between 2000 and CHUN’s termination, CHUN also reported to the FBI that he had traveled to the areas of Hong Kong and China approximately nine times, as well as additional trips to Canada, Thailand, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. CHUN was required by FBI policy to disclose anticipated and actual contact with foreign nationals during his international travel, but he lied on numerous pre- and post-trip FBI debriefing forms by omitting his contacts with Chinese Official-1, other Chinese nationals, and Kolion.
Examples of CHUN’s Actions in the United States
in Response to Requests from Chinese Official-1
Chinese Official-1 asked CHUN on multiple occasions for information regarding the internal structure of the FBI. In response to those requests, in approximately March 2013, CHUN downloaded an FBI organizational chart from his FBI computer in Manhattan. CHUN later admitted to the FBI that, after editing the chart to remove the names of FBI personnel, he saved the document on a piece of digital media and caused it to be transported to Chinese Official-1 in China.
Chinese Official-1 also asked CHUN for information regarding technology used by the FBI. In approximately January 2015, CHUN took photographs of documents displayed in a restricted area of the FBI’s New York Field Office, which summarized sensitive details regarding multiple surveillance technologies used by the FBI. CHUN sent the photographs to his personal cell phone, and later admitted to the FBI that he caused the photographs to be transported to Chinese Official-1 in China.
CHUN’s Admissions to an FBI Undercover Employee
In about February 2015, the FBI caused an undercover employee (the “UCE”) to be introduced to CHUN. The UCE purported to be employed by an independent contractor.
During a March 2015 recorded meeting, CHUN told the UCE about his relationship with Kolion and Chinese nationals. In a subsequent recorded meeting in March 2015, CHUN explained to the UCE that Kolion had “government backing,” and that approximately five years earlier a relative met a “section chief” whom CHUN believed was associated with the Chinese government.
In June 2015, during a recorded meeting, CHUN told the UCE that he had informed his Chinese associates that the UCE may be in a position to assist them. CHUN said that he wished to act as a “sub-consultant” to the UCE and wanted the UCE to “pay” him “a little bit.” In July 2015, after coordinating travel in an effort to introduce the UCE to CHUN’s Chinese associates, CHUN met with the UCE twice. During one of the meetings, CHUN stated that he knew “firsthand” that the Chinese government was actively recruiting individuals who could provide assistance, and that the Chinese government was willing to provide immigration benefits and other compensation in exchange for such assistance. The UCE told CHUN that he had access to sensitive information from the United States government. CHUN responded that his Chinese associates would be interested in that type of information, but that CHUN expected a “cut” of any payment that the UCE received for providing information to the Chinese government.
CHUN’s Arrest by the FBI and Confession
CHUN was arrested by the FBI on March 16, 2016. He subsequently confessed to most of the foregoing activities, including to having taken steps to collect sensitive FBI information in the United States in response to taskings from Chinese Official-1. CHUN explained that he was motivated in part by the financial benefits that he and others derived from these relationships, but also admitted that he understood that he had provided assistance to the Chinese government.
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CHUN, 46, pled guilty to one count of acting in the United States as an agent of China without providing notice to the Attorney General, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. CHUN will be sentenced on December 2, 2016, at 1:00 p.m., by United States District Judge Victor Marrero. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emil J. Bove III and Andrea L. Surratt of the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, with assistance provided by Trial Attorneys Thea D.R. Kendler and David Recker of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.