The student whose family paid $6.5 million in order for her to be admitted to Stanford University has been identified as Chinese national Yusi Zhao, who also went by the name Molly.
Admitted to Stanford in 2017, Zhao was recruited into the school’s sailing program despite not being a sailor. Later, it’s alleged her family paid college admission scandal ringleader William ‘Rick’ Singer $6.5 million.
The Stanford Daily report on Zhao is an exhaustive and in-depth look at the $6.5 million bribe and scandal.
On March 12, federal prosecutors announced the indictments and arrests of 50 people alleged to be part of a conspiracy to influence admissions decisions for otherwise unqualified college applicants. It’s alleged a number of parents paid more than $25 million in total to Singer, a college admissions adviser and the cheating and bribery scheme leader. He has been cooperating since September of 2018.
Zhao’s father is Tao Zhao, a Chinese billionaire. Early Friday, he said the matter was a personal and family one adding the money came from him and not from his pharmaceutical companies.
Yusi Zhao, who was a psychology and Asian studies major, was expelled from Stanford in either late March or early April, though that has not been confirmed by the University, though the Stanford Daily has more reporting on this.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Her Billionaire Father Paid a $6.5 Million-Dollar Bribe to Get Yusi Into Stanford University
Citing sources, the Los Angeles Times reported that Zhao was admitted as a sailing recruit for the Stanford sailing team. It’s alleged that “Singer targeted the school’s sailing program, putting her forth as a competitive sailor despite there being no indication she competed in the sport…”
Once she was admitted, her father allegedly paid Singer $6.5 million.
Neither has been charged.
The Stanford Daily reported that her student profile was no longer on the University directory as of mid-April but he student paper located a cached version that showed she was a student in late March.
The paper reported that she was an East Asian Studies major who would have been part of a study program in Hong Kong in the fall of 2019. She also “served as a delegate from April 3 to 7 to the Global Governance Forum, hosted by the Princeton U.S.-China Coalition,” the paper reported.
2. Her Father is Chinese Billionaire Pharmaceutical Company Owner Tao Zhao, Who Has Had His Own Scandals. He Claims the Millions Paid Were His Own Money, Not Company Funds & His Wife Claims They Were Duped by Singer
According to Forbes and Bloomberg, Zhao Tao, earned an MBA from Fordham University, is the co-founder and chairman of Shandong Buchang Pharmaceuticals, based in Heze, China. The company supplies “traditional Chinese medicine to fight cardiovascular disease.” His company began trading on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in November 2016. He is also CEO of Step Pharmaceuticals.
Ranked #as number 197 on Forbes’ China Rich List in 2018, he’s said to be worth nearly $2 billion.
Early Friday, Zhau wrote on a company website that the $6.5 million came from his pockets, not from his companies coffers. The below is translated:
“My daughter’s study abroad in the United States is an individual and family behavior. The source of funds is not related to Step Pharmaceuticals, and does not affect the financial status of Step Pharmaceutical.”
“Buchang Pharmaceutical is a public company listed and its operation management is independent. The internal control system of Buchang Pharmaceutical is sound, and my personal matters will not affect its normal operation.”
It was plastered all over Chinese social and news media.
The Stanford Daily reported that Zhao was also implicated with myriad others in a Chinese drug manufacturers’ bribery scandal in 2007. An his business dealings related to that can be found in the voluminous Panama Papers.
A full feature story on Zhao can be found here.
CNN reported “Mrs. Zhao” claimed through an attorney that the family was duped by Singer.
3. Yusi Zhao Was Trending on Chinese Social Media After She Was Named as Part of the Cheating & Bribery Scandal & a Video She Made About Being Accepted to Stanford Was Being Viewed & Talked About By Thousands
The social media site Sina Weibo, the Chinese Twitter and Facebook hybrid, has 500 million users. Yusi Zhao was a huge trend on the site Thursday. An account of a person purported to be Zhao cannot be confirmed to be hers, but she is nonetheless among the most widely shared and discussed topics currently.
And on the Sina Weibo video site, a video purported to be that of Yusi Zhao addressing her admission to Stanford has millions of views and more than 100,000 were engaged in a discussion about her comments on being accepted to Stanford. The video is not translated.
4. More Than 50 Were Initially Charged in the Nationwide College Admissions Exam Cheating & Athletic Recruitment Scheme
According to the government, the conspiracy involved bribing SAT and ACT exam administrators to allow a test taker to secretly take college entrance exams in place of students or to correct the students’ answers after they had taken the exam; bribing university athletic coaches and administrators—including coaches at Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Southern California, and the University of Texas to facilitate the admission of students to elite universities under the guise of being recruited as athletes; and using the façade of Singer’s charitable organization to conceal the nature and source of the bribes.
Celebrities, CEO’s, university coaches and college exam administrators have been charged.
Conspiracy charges including racketeering, wire and mail fraud, money laundering were leveled against Singer, and nine coaches and athletic directors including former Yale women’s tennis head coach Rudy Meredith, former sailing coach at Stanford University John Vandemoer, Gordon Ernst, former head coach of men and women’s tennis at Georgetown University,former women’s volleyball coach at Wake Forest University William Ferguson, a senior athletic director and a number of now-former coaches from the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles.
Actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are the celebrity defendants.
Twenty were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and include wealthy executives and CEOs from investment firms to vineyards.
Many have already pleaded guilty.
5. Other Students Too Were Outed, the Children of the Rich Who Paid Millions to See Their Sons & Daughters Admitted to Ivy League & Top Tier Schools Where they Otherwise Wouldn’t Have Made the Grade
Few students have been called out as complicit in the bribery and cheating scheme, but some have and are seen as either ebing complicit or aware of their parents’ schemes.
Isabelle Henriquez, now 20, was fully aware and participated in the cheating and fraud, as described in federal court documents. Indeed, it was reported by feds that she “gloated” about cheating on her SATs with the help of a pricey “proctor” from Tampa who sat beside her and supplied answers to take her previous score of around 1600 to 1900.
She’s the eldest daughter of Elizabeth and Manuel of Hercules Technology Growth Capital, who are charged in $25 million-dollar scheme and face up to five years in prison. It’s also being reported that the couple did the same for their other daughter. Manuel has stepped aside as CEO of the firm where his compensation was nearly $9 million in 2017.
Her parents also are alleged to have paid former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst, also charged in the massive cheating and bribery scandal, a nearly $1 million bribe to sign off on her faked application that falsely stated she’d played tennis throughout high school and indeed, played on the club circuit nationally. She did not, the federal charging documents say.
Lauren Isackson‘s parents allegedly paid a $250,000 bribe, in Facebook stock to see their daughter enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles and on the UCLA Bruin’s Women’s Soccer team. Davina and Bruce Isackson were arrested and charged in the federal case dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, a conspiracy where children of the very wealthy were admitted to top-tier universities sans either good-enough grades or elite athlete resumes; they were fabricated and, with the paid-for help from coaches, were admitted, the government says.
The couple pleaded guilty May 1.
“#BREAKING: Bruce & Davina Isackson plead guilty in connection w/ #CollegeAdmissionsScandal in federal court in #Boston”
And former Yale student Sherry Guo too has been named in the cheating scandal.
She was admitted to Yale in 2018 as a soccer recruit. Expelled in March, her family allegedly paid Singer $1.2 million.