KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (CN) – A nuclear engineer pleaded guilty Friday to trying to help China develop and produce nuclear material under the radar of the U.S. government.
Szuhsiung Ho aka Allen Ho, 66, is a dual citizen of China and Delaware. He works as a nuclear engineer employed by the China General Nuclear Power Company, or 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, or ETI for short, court records show.
In April 2016, Ho 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.
Prosecutors say that from 1997 through 2016, CGNPC and ETI 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.”
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 claimed.
The indictment said that Ho’s 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, which is headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn.
The U.S. Justice Department announced Friday that Ho pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in the development of nuclear material outside the United States in violation of the Atomic Energy Act.
He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for May 17 in Knoxville federal court.