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Agencies
February 15, 2020

US brings new charges against Huawei

World

A
Agencies
February 15, 2020

WASHINGTON: The US justice department has added new criminal charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei and several subsidiaries, accusing the company of a brazen scheme to steal trade secrets from competitors in America.

The new indictment also alleges the company provided surveillance equipment to Iran that enabled the monitoring of protesters during 2009 anti-government demonstrations in Tehran, and that it sought to conceal business that it was doing in North Korea despite economic sanctions there.

The company disputed the allegations in a statement and said they were “without merit”.

China’s foreign ministry accused the US government of “economic e-bullying” and improperly using security allegations to “oppress Chinese companies”.

The new allegations come as the Trump administration raises national security concerns about Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, and aggressively lobbies western allies to bar the company from wireless, high-speed networks.

The superseding indictment, brought by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, adds to the company’s legal woes in the US.

It adds charges of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to steal trade secrets to an existing criminal case in New York, where the company already faces charges of lying to banks about deals that violated economic sanctions against Iran.

Federal prosecutors in Seattle have brought a separate trade secrets theft case against the company.

Meng Wanzhou, a senior Huawei executive and the daughter of the company’s founder, is accused of making false representations to banks about Huawei’s relationship with its Iran-based affiliate.

She was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia, and has yet to be extradited to the US.

The latest indictment, an update of a case first filed last year, accuses Huawei of plotting to steal the trade secrets and intellectual property of rival companies in the US.

The indictment details efforts to steal from a half dozen companies. The indictment also lays out steps that the company to conceal its business dealings with Iran and North Korea, including by referring to both countries in internal documents by their code names.

In a statement, Huawei called the new indictment “part of the Justice Department’s attempt to irrevocably damage Huawei’s reputation and its business for reasons related to competition rather than law enforcement”.