U.S. prosecutors have filed criminal charges against China’s largest technology company, accusing it of stealing trade secrets and committing bank fraud.
In a 13-count indictment filed in Brooklyn, New York, the U.S. government charged Huawei Technologies, two affiliated companies and chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou with bank and wire fraud, as well as conspiracy in connection with business in Iran. In separate charges filed in Washington state, the company is also accused of stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile USA.
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,” Christopher Wray, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said at a press conference in Washington, according to Bloomberg.
While Huawei didn’t respond to requests for comment on the allegations. China’s government defended the company.
“The U.S. has been abusing the idea of ‘national security,’ slandering and striking down the normal commercial activities of Chinese enterprises,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing in Beijing this month. “The U.S. has been ignoring the facts and is being extremely nervous, mistaking each bush and tree for the enemy and mistaking the shadow of a bow in one’s cup as a snake.”
U.S. prosecutors have accused Huawei of hiding its relationship with Skycom Tech Co., a Hong Kong-registered company with operations in Iran. Meng “personally made a presentation in August 2013 to an executive of one of Huawei’s major banking partners in which she repeatedly lied about the relationship,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Meng, the daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested Dec. 1 in Canada on fraud allegations. She is fighting extradition to the U.S.
In addition, prosecutors say that Huawei launched a “concerted effort” in 2012 to steal information on a phone-testing robot created by T-Mobile USA Inc., going so far as to offer their employees bonuses if they could obtain information on the technology.
“Huawei wanted to build its own robot, and rather than engineer its own device, it decided to steal T-Mobile’s technology,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes of the Western District of Washington.