Chinese authorities have arrested a leading scientist in transgene biology on the charge of swindling state scientific research funds.

The Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology said Friday that Li Ning, a professor at the Chinese University of Agriculture and member of the elite Chinese Academy of Engineering, was suspected of swindling state funds in his research project on the cultivation of new transgene biological species.

His arrest came after national audits found seven professors from five universities obtained research funds of more than 25 million yuan ($4.08 million) through false means. The ministry says two of them have been convicted and sentenced to prison.

Academic corruption is prevalent in universities and research institutes, where plagiarism, bribery for promotion, and misuse of government funds are common.