Feds: TVA Executive Traded Nuclear Information for Cash in Chinese Espionage Case

Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville News Sentinel, April 14, 2016

An East Tennessean who served as a senior manager in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s nuclear program swapped information with one of China’s top nuclear power companies in exchange for cash, according to federal court records unsealed Thursday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Knoxville on Thursday announced an espionage conspiracy indictment against China General Nuclear Power, Chinese nuclear engineer Szuhsiung “Allen” Ho, and Ho’s firm, Energy Technology International. Prosecutors said Ho conspired with the companies to lure nuclear experts in the U.S. into providing information to allow China to develop and produce nuclear material based on American technology and under the radar of the U.S. government.

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“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 Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said in a news release. {snip}

Among the six unidentified American co-conspirators listed in the indictment is a person labeled “U.S. Person 1,” described as the TVA senior manager for the probabilistic risk assessment in the Nuclear Power Group from April 2010 to September 2014. The TVA executive was born in Taiwan and became a naturalized citizen in 1990, according to the indictment. {snip}

The TVA executive had the same role with the Florida Power & Light company before joining TVA and met Ho through the Chinese American Nuclear Technology Association in the early 1990s, according to the indictment. {snip}

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In December 2015, Ho sent the TVA executive a check to a Chattanooga address totaling $15,555 for services in 2013 and 2014, according to the indictment.

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The indictment lists five other Americans as participating in the espionage conspiracy. They, too, are identified only by state of residency and job description. Four worked at the same Pennsylvania-based nuclear firm, which is not identified in the indictment, while the fifth worked for a Colorado-based firm that supplied technical support to the nuclear power industry. That firm also is not identified.

All five were engineers. Two were nuclear engineers living in Pennsylvania. Two lived in South Carolina, with one of those experts born in China before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. The fifth lived in Colorado. All were paid for providing Ho and China General with key information on various aspects of the production of special nuclear material–plutonium, uranium-233 and enriched uranium–according to the indictment.

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