MIT told to turn over docs related to Russian, Chinese and Saudi ties

MIT's Saudi Arabia ties seem especially concerning to the feds.

The Department of Education is investigating the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology for its reporting of gifts and contracts from foreign sources like Russia, China and Saudi Arabia, the department revealed Thursday.

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The department notified MIT of the investigation and requested records in a Sept. 26 letter. Principal Deputy General Counsel Reed D. Rubinstein wrote that his department was concerned that MIT's reporting failed to "fully capture" gifts and contracts tied to programs like the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow and MIT Campus, China.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The department seemed especially concerned by MIT's handling of its ties to Saudi Arabia, which pledged $25 million to MIT for research in areas including renewable energy and artificial intelligence in 2018. MIT called murdered Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance a "grave concern" and said it would rethink the partnership in 2018. The institution ultimately decided against cutting off the money flow in 2019.

MIT said it is "working constructively" with the Department of Education.

"MIT takes its federal reporting obligations seriously. About a year ago, MIT identified ways to improve its foreign gift and contract reporting. MIT's reporting since January 2019 has been based on these improved processes. The Institute is committed to working constructively with federal officials to address the department's questions," an MIT spokeswoman told FOX Business on Thursday.

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News of the investigation comes shortly after the director of MIT's Media Lab, Joichi Ito, stepped down in September after outcry over his financial connections to financier Jeffrey Epstein.

MIT had previously acknowledged receiving $800,000 in donations from foundations that Epstein controlled, leading university President L. Rafael Reif to make a formal apology.

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FOX Business' James Langford contributed to this report.