Thursday 25 April 2019

US charges telecoms giant Huawei with violating sanctions and stealing trade secrets

Acting attorney general Matt Whitaker (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Acting attorney general Matt Whitaker (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Michael Balsamo

The US Justice Department has unsealed criminal charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei, two of its subsidiaries and a senior executive, accused of misleading banks about the company's business and violating US sanctions.

The company is also charged in a separate case with stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile, according to federal prosecutors.

Prosecutors are seeking to extradite the company's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, and allege she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei's business dealings in Iran.

She was arrested on December 1 in Canada.

Huawei
Huawei

"As I told high-level Chinese law enforcement officials in August, we need more law enforcement co-operation with China," acting attorney general Matt Whitaker said at a news conference.

"China should be concerned about criminal activities by Chinese companies, and China should take action."

US prosecutors say Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell equipment in Iran in violation of US sanctions.

Meng misled US banks into believing the two companies were separate, according to the Justice Department.

"As you can tell from the number and magnitude of the charges, Huawei and its senior executives repeatedly refused to respect US law and standard international business practices," said FBI director Chris Wray.

Huawei is the world's biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies and has long been seen as a front for spying by the Chinese military or security services.

Meng Wanzhou (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press/AP)
Meng Wanzhou (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press/AP)

Prosecutors also allege that Huawei stole trade secrets, including the technology behind a robotic device T-Mobile used to test smartphones, prosecutors said.

A jury in Seattle ruled that Huawei had misappropriated the robotic technology from T-Mobile's lab in Washington state.

The Huawei case has set off a diplomatic spat with the three nations, which has threatened to complicate ties between the US and Canada.

President Donald Trump said he would get involved in the Huawei case if it would help produce a trade agreement with China, and said in December that he would "intervene if I thought it was necessary".

Press Association

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