Justice Department charges Chinese telecom giant Huawei with fraud
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department fired a legal broadside Monday at Chinese telecom giant Huawei, alleging the company operated a long-running scheme to deceive financial institutions about its activities in Iran and tried to steal sensitive information from T-Mobile.
The charges follow others in recent months lodged by the Trump administration that accuse China of engaging in unfair trade practices and commercial espionage.
In a 13-count indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of New York, federal prosecutors alleged that Huawei Technologies Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, and two of the company’s affiliates lied about the company’s relationship to Skycom, a firm in Iran, “falsely asserting it was not an affiliate of Huawei,” the Justice Department said in a news release.
Prosecutors also revealed they had charged Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of the company’s founder. She was detained last month on an arrest warrant in Canada and is fighting extradition to the United States.
The indictment alleges that Meng lied repeatedly about her firm’s relationship with Skycom in a 2013 presentation to bankers, the Justice Department said.
“These charges lay bare
Huawei’s alleged blatant disregard for the laws of our country and standard global business practices,” FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said in a statement.
Federal prosecutors also revealed in a separate indictment unsealed in Washington state that Huawei attempted to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile tied to its phone-testing robot, “Tappy.”
The indictment alleges that Huawei engineers violated confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements by taking photos of “Tappy,” measuring the device and even stealing a piece of the robot so their company could replicate the device.
The Trump administration has increasingly complained of what it describes as an alarming surge in digital attacks on U.S. companies and agencies since early 2017 from hackers backed by China’s Ministry of State Security, its chief intelligence service.
Experts say Beijing is trying to steal U.S. technological advances and intellectual property for commercial and military gain.
The Chinese intelligence agency also seeks to identify people who are spying against it—or whom it potentially can recruit as Chinese spies. The Trump administration also has sought to take a harder line on Iran.