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Engineer Accused of Stealing U.S. Nuclear Info

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (CN) — A dual citizen of China and Delaware tried to help China develop and produce nuclear material under the radar of the U.S. government, prosecutors claim.

Szuhsiung Ho aka Allen Ho is a nuclear engineer employed by the China General Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC), the largest nuclear power company in China and one that specializes in making nuclear reactors.

He is also president of the Wilmington, Del.-based Energy Technology International (ETI), court records show.

From 1997 through this year, the two companies worked to produce and develop nuclear material in China, "with the intent to secure an advantage to China and without specific authorization to do so from the U.S. Secretary of Energy, as required by law," according to prosecutors.

Ho, CGNPC and ETI allegedly sought and received technical assistance from U.S.-based experts in the civil nuclear industry for a nuclear reactor program, advanced fuel assembly program and in-core detector system.

Ho and the Chinese-based company facilitated experts' travel to China and payments in exchange for their help, prosecutors allege.

The Delaware and China resident was indicted on charges of conspiracy to engage in the production and development of nuclear material outside the United States and conspiracy to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government. CGNPC and ETI are also charged.

The two-count indictment was unsealed Thursday in Eastern Tennessee Federal Court.

Ho acted as an agent of China without first notifying the U.S. Attorney General, as required by law, the 17-page indictment states.

The indictment says that Ho's alleged crimes occurred "within the Eastern District of Tennessee and elsewhere." According to court records, at least one of the experts he allegedly recruited worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which is headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn.

If convicted, Ho faces a maximum penalty of life in prison on the nuclear material charge, and 10 years for the charge of acting as an agent of a foreign government.

Michael Steinbach, executive assistant director of the FBI's National Security Branch, said in a statement that the federal government "will use all of its law enforcement tools to stop those who try to steal U.S. nuclear technology and expertise."

"The arrest and indictment in this case send an important message to the U.S. nuclear community that foreign entities want the information you possess," Steinbach said. "The federal government has regulations in place to oversee civil nuclear cooperation, and if those authorities are circumvented, this can result in significant damage to our national security."

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