Ex-Harvard coach accused of taking $1,5 million in bribes

A former Harvard University fencing coach was arrested on charges of taking bribes from a businessman. In exchange for the money, he promised to secure the admission of his two sons to the Ivy League school. Reuters reports.

The Boston Federal Attorney’s Office in the US said that Jie “Jack” Zhao, the executive director of the telecommunications company iTalk Global Communications Inc, paid over $ 1,5 million in bribes to Peter Brand, the ex-coach, to help his sons enroll in Harvard by taking them to the men’s fencing team in 2013 and 2016.

The American businessman was also arrested.

The charges followed a Boston Globe report last April detailing that Brand sold his home to Zhao for above-market value. Harvard fired Brand in July 2019.

In March 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office accused 57 people of a college admission scandal in which wealthy parents engaged in bribery schemes to secure places for their children at universities.

According to Zhao’s lawyer, he «adamantly denies these charges».

On Brand’s side, his lawyer said the two students were «fencing stars» and his client «did nothing wrong in connection with their admission to Harvard».

In addition, Zhao made a $ 1 million donation to a fencing charity in 2013. The charitable organization then donated $ 100,000 to a foundation founded by Brand and his wife.

According to the Attorney’s Office, Zhao also paid for Brand’s car, paid for his son’s college tuition, paid the mortgage on his house, and then bought the house at an above market price. The total amount of payments was $ 1,5 million.