US charges Huawei with violating sanctions and stealing trade secrets
Charges were filed in New York and Washington state.
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.
In a statement, Huawei denied committing any of the violations cited in the indictment.
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.
“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.
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”.
China’s government called on Washington to “stop the unreasonable crackdown” on Huawei.
Beijing will “firmly defend” its companies, according to a foreign ministry statement read on the state-run TV news.
The foreign ministry complained that Washington has “mobilised state power” to hurt Chinese companies “in an attempt to strangle fair and just operations” for political reasons.
China’s foreign ministry also called on Washington to withdraw its request for Canada to extradite Huawei’s chief financial officer.
A ministry spokesman complained that Washington “has shown disregard for the stern representations” from Beijing over the case.
He said: “We urge the US to immediately withdraw the arrest warrant against Miss Meng Wanzhou and stop making such kinds of extradition requests.”