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Chinese American nuclear engineer pleads guilty to violating Atomic Energy Act

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Szuhsiung Ho developed nuclear material outside the US.

A Chinese American nuclear engineer, Szuhsiung Ho, aka Allen Ho, 66, 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 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, on Friday.

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 the Justice Department.

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, in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Ho faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.