The United States government reportedly made duplicate payments to fund projects at the Wuhan, China, laboratory — the proposed origin of the coronavirus pandemic.
Through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Wuhan lab in communist-controlled China allegedly received double the funds from research grants, according to a review of records by CBS News.
Diane Cutler, a federal investigator who has investigated white-collar crimes for over 20 years, called the double billing a “potential theft of government funds.”
“What I’ve found so far is evidence that points to double billing, potential theft of government funds. It is concerning, especially since it involves dangerous pathogens and risky research,” said Cutler.
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) hired Cutler to investigate U.S. government grants going to high-risk research in China prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Her findings were then shared with the internal watchdog at USAID. Tens of millions of dollars could have potentially been stolen and sources close to the situation did not refute the report. Per the CBS News:
Cutler said she has viewed over 50,000 documents, and that the U.S. government may have made duplicate payments for possible medical supplies, equipment, travel and salaries.
A spokesperson for USAID declined to comment. A USAID inspector general spokesperson declined to comment “on the existence of a specific open investigation.” The press office for NIH did not respond to CBS News’ questions.
Sources told CBS News the investigation of possible double-billing could take at least six months to conclude.
Sen. Marshall has called for a congressional commission to investigate the grant funds that were sent to the Wuhan lab.
“I think there’s 1.1 million reasons that American taxpayers should care,” he said. “You’ll have a plane crashes. We want to find out why the plane crashes. We go to any lengths to do that. And the hope is we don’t have another plane crash for the same reason.”
Marshall also told the New York Post that “Americans deserve the truth, especially if our government had a hand in funding the creation of the coronavirus.”
“I am demanding transparency and accountability for the misuse of taxpayer funds. This probe is a step in the right direction. We must follow the money,” he said.
While the exact origins of the coronavirus pandemic have not been determined, intelligence officials now say that the lab leak theory does have merit and should not be dismissed.
In late February, FBI Director Christopher Wray indicated that the coronavirus could have originated in the Wuhan lab.
“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” Wray told Fox News. “Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.”
“I will just make the observation that the Chinese government, it seems to me, has been doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate the work here, the work that we’re doing, the work that our U.S. government and close foreign partners are doing. And that’s unfortunate for everybody,” he added.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) later cited Wray’s statement during the House Select Committee’s hearing about Communist China when he asked former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger if the totalitarian regime created the coronavirus as a bioweapons.
“Mr. Pottinger, less than an hour ago, the FBI Director, Christopher Wray, confirmed that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab. Do you think there is a chance that the Wuhan lab was involved in bioweapons research?” asked Banks.
Pottinger said that intelligence does show that the Chinese government and the Chinese military certainly experimented with coronavirus, stopping short of calling it a bioweapon.
“We know for certain that the Chinese military is involved in research in coronavirus,” he said. “We know that they were experimenting using U.S. technology to work on chimeric viruses. That is ones that had been engineered.”
“We know that the Chinese government and military had been involved in trying to develop vaccines for coronaviruses. I think that this is an area that there is still a great deal of information that has yet to come out that will show that there was an enormous amount of interest,” he added.
Committee Member @RepJimBanks: Is there a chance the Wuhan lab was involved in bio weapons research?
Matthew Pottinger: We know the Chinese military is involved in coronavirus research. pic.twitter.com/G2OoxZBiPV
— The Select Committee on the CCP (@committeeonccp) March 1, 2023