Chinese families embroiled in U.S. university scandal said they have been misled

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Chinese families embroiled in U.S. university scandal said they have been misled

Two of the largest sums paid in the massive U.S. college admission scandal were by Chinese families.

Their children were accepted into Stanford and Yale.

But unlike the American families involved, the Chinese families said they were misled, and have not been charged.

CGTN’s Karina Huber reports.

In one video, Yusi Zhao, a Chinese student, detailed how she got into Stanford University in 2017, saying it was a combination of hard work and luck.

But it turns out her parents paid $6.5 million to college consultant Rick Singer, who is at the center of the college admissions scandal in the United States that has implicated dozens of high-profile families.

Zhao’s mother said they were victims of fraud, not perpetrators of a crime. She said the payment to Singer was made after her daughter was admitted to the prestigious college. She said she was told by Singer it was a charitable donation. 

In a statement, a lawyer representing the family said: “Mrs. Zhao has come to realize she has been misled, her generosity has been taken advantage of, and her daughter has fallen victim to the scam.”

Reaction to Chinese social media has been mixed. Some pointed out that Zhao was doing well academically and might have been able to get in on her own merit, but others are skeptical the mother would pay such a high sum without knowing exactly where the money was going.

Yusi’s father, Tao Zhao, the billionaire founder of publicly-traded Shandong Buchang Pharmaceuticals, also said the funds did not come from the company and do not affect the financial status of the firm. 

A second Chinese student involved in the scandal is Sherry Guo, who was admitted to Yale University. Her parents paid Singer $1.2 million. The family does not deny the payment but also said they were duped. 

Both students have been expelled but unlike the U.S. families, no members of the Chinese families have been charged with a crime. 

Prosecutors have not revealed why they have not been charged, but Guo’s lawyer in Los Angeles says he believes they do not have solid evidence to prove that their intent was to defraud someone. He says cultural differences made them believe the payments were lawful, but whether that will stand up as a defense remains to be seen.