s expected, the United States Justice Department has filed a slew of criminal charges against Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
In total, the US has laid 23 charges against the world’s second largest smartphone maker, including bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and theft of trade secrets. One important part of the indictment describes how Huawei, and Meng in particular, allegedly misled the US and a global bank about the company’s relationship with two of its subsidiaries in order to conduct business with Iran in violation of sanctions against the country.
Another eye-opening section covers how Huawei allegedly stole secret technology from T Mobile in 2012 via a company-wide “bonus program” that encouraged employees to steal confidential information from competitors.
We’ve heard about China bounty programs for stolen trade secrets for years. But it’s remarkable to see the proof in the indictment. Huawei operated a rewards program to encourage employees to steal confidential information from competitors. Wolf culture indeed. pic.twitter.com/P8Rc1cSvvz
— Paul Mozur (@paulmozur) January 29, 2019
“For years, Chinese firms have broken our export laws and undermined sanctions, often using US financial systems to facilitate their illegal activities. This will end,” declared US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at a news conference on Tuesday.
Huawei has increasingly been attempting to expand overseas but has seen some of its efforts thwarted by nervous governments like the US who believe that the company’s technology could be used to spy on its citizens. Huawei has repeatedly denied any close ties with Beijing. Earlier this month, founder Ren Zhengfei went so far as to declare that Huawei does not spy for China and would refuse if asked.
Following the justice department’s announcement, Huawei issued a statement denying that it had committed any of the violations listed on the indictment and stating that it is not aware of any wrongdoing on the part of Meng.
Meng was arrested in Vancouver last month at the request of US authorities, infuriating Beijing which warned that Canada would face “serious consequences” if she was not quickly released. One week later, two Canadian nationals weredetainedin China on suspicion of “engaging in activities harming China’s national security.” A month after that, a Canadian drug smuggler who was arrested in China had his sentence changed from 15 years in prisonto death.
Beijing had similarly warned the US not to proceed with Meng’s extradition. At a press conference on Tuesday following the justice department’s announcement, China’s foreign ministry called on the US to stop its “unreasonable crackdown” against Huawei and withdraw its arrest warrant against Meng.