AN ASIAN/AMERICAN nuclear engineer admitted that he was part of a plot to develop or produce nuclear material in China without the required approval of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Szuhsiung Ho, aka Allen Ho, 66, a naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty Friday (Jan. 6) to the allegations of violating the Atomic Energy Act, according to Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord and U.S. Attorney Nancy Stallard Harr of the Eastern District of Tennessee. In April 2016, a federal grand jury issued a two-count indictment against Ho; China General Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC), the largest nuclear power company in China, and Energy Technology International (ETI), a Delaware corporation. At the time of the indictment Ho was a nuclear engineer, employed as a consultant by CGNPC and was also the owner of ETI. CGNPC specialized in the development and manufacture of nuclear reactors and was controlled by China’s State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.
According to court documents, beginning in 1997 and continuing through April 2016, Ho conspired with others to engage or participate in the development or production of special nuclear material in China, without specific authorization to do so from the U.S. Secretary of Energy, as required by law. Ho assisted CGNPC in procuring U.S.-based nuclear engineers to assist CGNPC and its subsidiaries with designing and manufacturing certain components for nuclear reactors more quickly by reducing the time and financial costs of research and development of nuclear technology. In particular, Ho sought technical assistance related to CGNPC’s Small Modular Reactor Program; CGNPC’s Advanced Fuel Assembly Program; CGNPC’s Fixed In-Core Detector System; and verification and validation of nuclear reactor-related computer codes.
Under the direction of the Chinese company, Ho also identified, recruited, and executed contracts with U.S.-based experts from the civil nuclear industry who provided technical assistance related to the development and production of special nuclear material for CGNPC in China. Ho and CGNPC also facilitated the travel to China and payments to the U.S.-based experts in exchange for their services.
Sentencing has been set for May 17, 2017 in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee. Ho faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the FBI, the TVA, DOE, ICE and Homeland Security.