US charges Huawei with bank fraud, stealing trade secrets

January 29, 2019 08:36
US officials address a news conference in Washington on Monday to announce indictments against China's Huawei Technologies. Photo: Reuters

The United States on Monday charged China’s Huawei Technologies, its chief financial officer and two affiliates with bank and wire fraud to violate sanctions against Iran, Reuters reports.

In a 13-count indictment filed in New York, the Justice Department said Huawei misled a global bank and US authorities about its relationship with the subsidiaries, Skycom Tech and Huawei Device USA, in order to conduct business in Iran.

In a separate case, the department accused two Huawei subsidiaries of 10 counts of stealing trade secrets, wire fraud and obstructing justice for allegedly stealing robotic technology from carrier T-Mobile US to test smartphones’ durability, the report said.

Those charges were filed in the western district of Washington state.

T-Mobile had accused Huawei of stealing the technology, called “Tappy,” which mimicked human fingers and was used to test smartphones.

Huawei has said that the two companies settled their disputes in 2017.

The charges in both cases add to US pressure on Huawei, the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the cases “expose Huawei’s brazen and persistent actions to exploit American companies and financial institutions, and to threaten the free and fair global marketplace.”

He said that he is concerned about Huawei devices in US telecommunications networks.

"That kind of access could give a foreign government the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, conduct undetected espionage, or exert pressure or control,” Wray said.

The Trump administration is trying to prevent American companies from buying Huawei routers and switches and pressing allies to do the same.

US security experts are concerned that the equipment could be used to spy on the United States.

At Washington’s request, Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada in December and is now fighting extradition to the United States.

US authorities accuse Meng of playing a lead role in the scheme to use subsidiaries to conduct business in Iran in violation of US sanctions against Tehran.

Meng, who has denied the charges, is currently in Vancouver, staying in one of her family’s homes, as she awaits a decision from a Canadian court on the US extradition request.

The arrest of Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, ratcheted up tensions with China, which responded by arresting two Canadians on national security grounds.

Ren denies his company’s products would be used by the Chinese government to spy.

-- Contact us at [email protected]