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Hinkley investor faces conspiracy charge

Hinkley Point C, EDF

The Chinese firm with a financial stake in the proposed Hinkley Point C project has been charged with nuclear espionage, according to the US justice department.

In the indictment, the US government said that China General Nuclear Power (CGN) employee Szuhsiung (Allen) Ho and the company itself had been charged with conspiracy to unlawfully engage and participate in the production and development of special nuclear material outside the US, without the required authorisation from the US Department of Energy.

CGN, formerly known as China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company, agreed a 33.5% stake in the Hinkley project in October 2015, with EDF taking the remaining 66.5%. Despite EDF’s long awaited decision to go ahead with Hinkley last month, the UK government responded by launching an unexpected review of the £18bn project. This week, the Chinese ambassador to UK warned that the two countries are at a “historical juncture” over the project.

In the latest controversy surrounding the Hinkley project, nuclear engineer Ho is expected to appear in court next week accused of conspiracy against the US.

“Allen Ho, at the direction of a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company allegedly approached and enlisted US based nuclear experts to provide integral assistance in developing and producing special nuclear material in China,” said assistant attorney general John Carlin.

“Ho did so without registering with the Department of Justice as an agent of a foreign nation or authorisation from the US Department of Energy. Prosecuting those who seek to evade US law by attaining sensitive nuclear technology for foreign nations is a top priority for the National Security Division.”

According to the indictment, Ho’s alleged offences began in 1997 and continued until April 2016, when the indictment was officially unsealed. Ho, CGN and Energy Technology International allegedly conspired with others to engage and participate in the development and production of special nuclear material in China, with the intent to secure an advantage to China.

The indictment further alleges that during this same period, Ho conspired with others to knowingly act as an agent of China without prior notification to the attorney general, as required by law.

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