NIH may have been double-billed by Wuhan biolab

The Wuhan biolab that was doing research with coronaviruses partly thanks to US grants may have been double-billed. That’s the word coming from a former federal investigator who has been going through the books.

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“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 Diane Cutler, a former federal investigator with over two decades of experience combating white-collar crime and healthcare fraud.

Cutler found evidence of possible double payments as she investigated U.S. government grants that supported high risk research in China leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was hired by Republican Sen. Roger Marshall, who took her records to USAID and the internal watchdog at USAID, which launched a new probe, details of which have not been previously reported…

Sources told CBS News that tens of millions of dollars could be involved.

Sources familiar with the grant records did not dispute CBS News’ reporting.

So this is apparently being investigated by USAID and Catherine Herridge reports the completion of that investigation could take as long as six more months. Until then, no one is willing to comment including the USAID inspector general, the person who would be doing the investigation. IG reports always take months to complete so that’s nothing new, but on the plus side they tend to be pretty thorough since the IG has the ability to question everyone involved (at least in this country).

Last month the IG for HHS released a report concluding that NIH and EcoHealth Alliance had been careless in their monitoring of what was being done with the grants. So we already know they weren’t paying sufficient attention to the research. It wouldn’t come as much of a shock to learn they weren’t being careful with the money either. There’s no mention of EcoHealth Alliance in this story but since most of the money seems to have flowed through them to the lab I assume they are involved.

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There’s also an obvious connection to the lab leak theory here since the combination of this story with that one would suggest US taxpayers were double-billed by a lab that carelessly released a deadly virus. But even if you don’t buy into the lab leak, double-billing by a lab under the partial control of the Chinese military is bad news. Chances are we’ll never know what happened to that extra money (assuming this story is confirmed by the IG).

As I’ve said before, I’m still on the fence with the lab leak because both explanations have offered some compelling facts but neither has found a smoking gun. Put another way, I’m with the CIA on this one. So far the CIA hasn’t felt compelled to take either side in the debate. Here’s the full report from CBS and Catherine Herridge.

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