Michigan State declined Iran-backed Dubai campus bailout

April 15, 2012

Good for MSU and Lou Simon.  If they had accepted the funds, it’s very likely that Michigan State could have been held responsible for violations of sanctions laws and an even greater financial risk.  Not to mention the moral problem of working with an investor that may have been helping Iran gain money and scientific resources to acquire nuclear weapons to destroy Israel.

Normally we hear about undue influence from Saudi (Sunni) money on Western universities, but apparently Iran has tried buying academic influence as well.  From Bloomberg on Apr. 8, which says American universities are “infected” by foreign spies:

Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon contacted the Central Intelligence Agency in late 2009 with an urgent question.

The school’s campus in Dubai needed a bailout and an unlikely savior had stepped forward: a Dubai-based company that offered to provide money and students.

Simon was tempted. She also worried that the company, which had investors from Iran and wanted to recruit students from there, might be a front for the Iranian government, she said. If so, an agreement could violate federal trade sanctions and invite enemy spies.

The CIA couldn’t confirm that the company wasn’t an arm of Iran’s government. Simon rejected the offer and shut down undergraduate programs in Dubai, at a loss of $3.7 million…


  1. Although the Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon had genuine concerns about the intentions of the Dubai company that offered the $3.7 million bail out proposal, it would have been wiser to conduct a further investigations on the company before turning down the offer.

    • I disagree. It would have been illegal for Michigan State to do business with a company sanctioned under CISADA, and when an agency of the federal government could not verify whether the business was an Iranian front, she made the only sensible decision.

      To do business with the company may have been illegal and subjected Michigan State to prosecution or litigation.

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