The mother who paid $6.5 million allegedly to help to get her daughter into Stanford University said that she was misled into thinking that the family donated to the university through an education consultant.
The mother of Zhao Yusi, the student, said that "she has been misled, her generosity has been taken advantage of, and her daughter has fallen victim to the scam," in a statement sent to the Global Times through Vincent W C Law, a partner at law firm Mayer Brown in Hong Kong on Friday.
"Both Mrs. Zhao [the mother] and Yusi have been shocked and deeply disturbed by what has transpired, and have engaged attorneys to handle the matter," the statement said.
The statement did not give information about the father.
Zhao Yusi's father, Zhao Tao, is reportedly the chairman of Shandong Buchang Pharmaceuticals, a supplier of traditional Chinese medicine to fight cardiovascular disease. Zhao Tao, 53, born in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, is a citizen of Singapore reportedly worth $1.8 billion, Forbes reported.
Zhao Tao said on Friday his daughter's studies in the U.S. are a personal matter and she didn't receive any funds from the company. As a listed company, Buchang's operations are independent and will not be influenced by personal matters, he said in a statement via the law firm on the company's website.
Wang Lu, a Buchang employee based in East China's Shandong Province, told the Global Times on Friday that if the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE), where Buchang was listed in 2016, asks the company about the event, they will report it to the SSE. So far, the SSE has not asked the company about the matter.
The statement from the law firm said Zhao Yusi's mother sought assistance for her daughter through recommendations from third parties, and consulted education advisors as she was not familiar with the college admissions process.
One of the education advisors consulted was William "Rick" Singer.
Zhao received an offer from Stanford in March 2017. Afterwards, Singer asked Zhao's mother to make a donation to Stanford through his foundation for "the salaries of academic staff, scholarships and athletics programs" and to help students who cannot afford Stanford." Zhao's mother then donated $6.5 million to Singer's foundation in April 2017, according to the statement.
CNN reported that Singer was the owner of college counseling and prep business The Key and CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation.
Singer allegedly facilitated cheating in tests and bribing college coaches and administrators during admissions, according to the CNN report.