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Press Release

Committee Investigates Chinese Influence and Taxpayer Funding Waste at USFWS

  • OI Subcommittee

This week, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Martha Williams, opening an investigation into "Operation Long Tail Liberation." During the course of the USFWS’ operation, career employees spent millions of taxpayer dollars on a Chinese national informant to investigate claims of illegal primate smuggling. This jeopardized USFWS networks, wasted taxpayer resources and failed to produce the information they sought, despite years of investigations. In part, the members wrote:

"At issue in this matter is an investigation by Service law enforcement agents of activities carried out in the Kingdom of Cambodia relating to the purported trade of wild long-tailed macaques. In carrying out so-called 'Operation Long Tail Liberation,' the Service relied on a paid informant to surreptitiously gather information outside of the United States, in Cambodia, without the knowledge of the Cambodian Government, that would be the basis of indictments for the illegal importation of macaques into the U.S.

"That paid informant, Veng Lim Yeung, whom the Service nicknamed 'Francis,' was a Chinese national working at a primate facility in Cambodia. The Service was put in contact with Yeung by Sarah Kite, an employee of Cruelty-Free International, an environmental organization in London. Yeung had originally contacted Cruelty-Free International in search of a salary. 

"Over the course of the investigation, the Service paid Yeung hundreds of thousands of dollars. In court records, Yeung admitted to receiving almost $225,000 from the Service. In addition, as part of that investigation, Yeung admitted to installing spyware on a computer at his place of employment, provided access to a security camera at the gate of the facility to FWS agents, and stealing a visitor logbook from his employer, among other troubling actions.  

"Following his work for the United States in Cambodia, the U.S. government paid for him and his family to move to the U.S., set up a bank account for him, and, because he did not have a credit history, gave him a backstory to help him find housing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also helped him obtain authorization to work in the United States.  

"All of this was at significant expense to the taxpayer and to the Service’s programs."

Read the full letter here.