The charges are yet another escalation to the pressure from the Trump administration on the Chinese giant over national security concerns. Trump officials have been angling to lock Huawei out of next-gen mobile tech discussions, fearing that they could be pressured to use the technology to spy on U.S. forces.
The new indictment was filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, and claims that Huawei has been engaging in a scheme to steal trade secrets and intellectual property from six U.S. tech companies, among other targets. The charges are related to claims made by companies like Cisco, T-Mobile, Motorola and others.
According to prosecutors, Huawei’s efforts were successful, and it gained access to private information relating to robotics, cellular-antenna technology and internet router source code. The alleged crimes allowed Huawei to cut costs, as well as speed up research and development, giving it an unfair advantage over competition, prosecutors said.
The charges build on others leveled in early 2019, accusing Huawei of financial fraud and violating the U.S. sanctions on Iran.
In response to the allegations, Huawei called them “unfounded,” and said it was motivated by fears of competition rather than wrongdoing. The company said the “racketeering” charges amounted to nothing more than “contrived repackaging” of civil charges from decades ago. Huawei added that it does not spy on rivals, and complies with laws on the global market to the best of its ability.
The Trump administration has blocked U.S. suppliers from working with Huawei, and has considered removing Huawei from the U.S.’ financial network, though that did not end up happening. The administration has also pressured European companies to stop working with Huawei, too. The EU didn’t go along with that, voting last month to let Huawei equipment be used in non-core parts of its 5G technology. That decision drew the ire of the Trump administration.