A Chinese-born U.S. nuclear engineer has been accused of recruiting a team of U.S.-based experts to help a state-controlled Chinese nuclear energy company build reactors there.

Szuhsiung Ho, also known as Allen Ho, had dual citizenship in China, where he was employed with the China General Nuclear Power Company, and the U.S., where he was owner and president of Delaware-based Energy Technology International, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday in East Tennessee.

The Atomic Energy Act created a path for authorized persons to help develop nuclear materials outside of the U.S. But the indictment alleges Ho and the two companies never sought that authorization.

Instead, Ho recruited nuclear experts through his company, the indictment states. Those recruited included a Tennessee Valley Authority employee who lived in Tennessee and other unnamed engineers from South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Colorado who worked for unnamed nuclear power companies based in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

The indictment quotes an Oct. 2009 communication in which Ho asked an unnamed person for recruiting help.

It quotes Ho as saying, "China has the budget to spend.... They want to bypass the research stage and go directly to the final design and manufacturing phase."

Howard Hall is the Governor's Chair Professor for Nuclear Security at the University of Tennessee. He said nuclear technology, even civilian technology, is special in that one must have federal government permission to share it.

"It sounds like this was all civilian, or close to civilian-type technology, not classified material," he said. "But it's still a serious crime."

Ho is also charged with acting in the U.S. as the agent of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. Attorney General, as required by law.

Sharry Dedman-Beard, with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Knoxville, said Ho has been arrested. She did not know if he had an attorney. A message left late Thursday at a number listed for Ho was not immediately returned.