U.S. engineer accused in nuke power conspiracy to benefit China
A nuclear engineer working for a Chinese nuclear power company conspired with a group of people including a TVA manager to develop and produce "special nuclear material" in China in violation of U.S. law, U.S. authorities announced Thursday afternoon.
Allen Ho, aka Szuhsiung Ho, a naturalized American citizen who was born in China, faces a two-count indictment that accuses him of taking part in the conspiracy without securing the approval of the U.S. Department of Energy. He's also charged with acting as an agent "of a foreign government" while in the United States.
Ho is a nuclear engineer employed by the China General Nuclear Power Co., according to the government. He also owns a firm called Energy Technology International, according to the government.
He lives in Delaware and in China, according to U.S. authorities.
"Allen Ho, at the direction of a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company allegedly approached and enlisted U.S.-based nuclear experts to provide integral assistance in developing and producing special nuclear material in China," Assistant U.S. Attorney for National Security John Carlin said in a government release.
The objective was to enable China General Nuclear Power to design and manufacture "certain components for nuclear reactors more quickly by reducing the time and financial costs of research and development."
According to the indictment returned here in the Knoxville district, Ho and his company got technical help from American experts for China General Nuclear Power Co., a China-owned company overseen by members of China's communist party.
Ho recruited the TVA manager, identified only as U.S. Person 1, or USP1, as well as others to assist in the conspiracy, the government alleges. USP1, a native of Taiwan, was paid for his work, and Ho and China General Nuclear Power arranged for him to travel to China.
Also named in the indictment are the China General Nuclear Power Co. and Ho's firm. The indictment was returned April 5.
USP1 first met Ho in the early 1990s, according to the government.
USP1 worked for Florida Power & Light before eventually taking a job as a senior manager for probabilistic risk assessment in TVA's Nuclear Power Group. He was with TVA from April 2010-September 2014
In 2004, USP1 gave Ho FPL information that the Chinese power company could use at a nuclear power plant. In April of that year, he also provided consulting services to the plant, according to the government.
He also provided reports prepared by the Electric Power Research Institute Inc., of which TVA was a member, to the Chinese power company.
As recently as December, Ho sent USP1 a check in Chattanooga for $15,555.20 for his help in 2013 and 2014.
The FBI has been investigating the case as well as TVA's Officer of the Inspector General. Others include the National Nuclear Security Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Chuck Atchley of the Eastern District of Tennessee and Casey Arrowood of the National Security Division's Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.