U.S. Nuclear Engineer Pleads Guilty to Violating the Atomic Energy Act
Szuhsiung Ho, aka Allen Ho, 66, a naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully engage or participate in the production or development of special nuclear material outside the U.S., without the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in violation of the Atomic Energy Act.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord and U.S. Attorney Nancy Stallard Harr of the Eastern District of Tennessee made the announcement.
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 documents filed in the case, 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 CGNPC, 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, at 11:00 a.m., in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee. Ho faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case was investigated by the FBI, Tennessee Valley Authority-Office of the Inspector General, DOE-National Nuclear Security Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from other agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles E. Atchley Jr. and Bart Slabbekorn of the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Trial Attorney Casey T. Arrowood of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and Attorney Jeffrey M. Smith of the Appellate Unit in the National Security Division, represented the U.S.