Former FPL manager accused of trading nuclear secrets in Chinese spy case
TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Power & Light manager traded nuclear information from the company for cash to assist one of China’s top nuclear power companies, according to federal court records unsealed in Tennessee last week.
The unnamed former FPL employee was recruited by Szuhsiung Ho, also known as Allen Ho, to help China General Nuclear Power Co. develop special nuclear material in China, according to the grand jury indictment unsealed April 14 in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Ho, a Delaware resident and naturalized U.S. citizen, is a nuclear engineer employed by China General Nuclear Power. The indictment charges Ho and his Delaware-based company, Energy Technology International, with two counts — conspiracy to unlawfully produce special nuclear material outside the United States and acting as an agent of a foreign government while in the United States.
The unnamed former FPL employee was a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Taiwan who left Juno Beach-based FPL in April 2010 to go to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority as a senior manager for the TVA’s nuclear power group until 2014, the indictment said. His job at FPL is listed as “Probabilistic Risk Assessment Manager.” The company has two nuclear plants — Turkey Point in Homestead and St. Lucie on Hutchinson Island.
The former FPL manager is identified only as U.S. Person 1, or USP1, and it is not known if charges have been filed against him or five other unnamed individuals who allegedly worked with Ho. The indictment says USPI was first introduced to Ho in the early 1990s through the Chinese American Nuclear Technology Association.
Ho was allegedly on assignment to recruit technical assistance from U.S.-based experts to help China General Nuclear Power design and manufacture certain components for nuclear reactors more quickly by reducing the time and financial costs of research and development, the indictment says. China General Nuclear Power is a government-owned company overseen by members of China’s communist party.
“As this situation involves an active and ongoing legal matter, we do not have any comment on the status of this case,” FPL spokeswoman Sarah Gatewood said in an email statement. “All questions about this case should be directed to the proper authorities.”
Rob Gould, FPL’s chief communications officer, said via email that the company “did cooperate with several government agencies as part of their investigation.”
According to the indictment, Ho would tell his U.S.-based recruits: “China has the budget to spend. They asked me if I could form a comprehensive team to provide technology transfer in design and manufacturing, related training and technical supports.”
The goal, he is quoted as saying, is for China to “be able to design their Nuclear Instrumentation System independently and manufacturing them independently after the project is complete. … They said the budget is no issue.”
In 2004, the former FPL manager allegedly provided Ho with Florida Power & Light information “regarding nuclear power plant outage times” for use at China General’s Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant in exchange for payment.
“Daya Bay hopes you can bring them as many paper reports and documents as you could …” the indictment says Ho wrote the former FPL manager on March 17, 2004.
From April 26 to April 30, 2004, the indictment says, the former FPL manager traveled to China and provided consulting services to the Daya Bay Nuclear Plant.