Huawei Hit with Criminal Charges

The Trump administration on Monday brought criminal charges against Huawei for alleged theft of trade secrets, wire fraud and breach of sanctions, among other violations.

In 23 indictments, filed in federal court in Brooklyn and Seattle, the U.S. claims that Huawei sought to steal confidential information from T-Mobile from 2012 to 2014, and that executives at the top brass of the company were aware of the effort. The government also alleges that the Chinese firm misrepresented its ownership of an Iranian affiliate called Skycom. The U.S. has sanctions against doing business in Iran.

The list of defendants includes Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Wanzhou Meng, who was arrested in Canada last month and is facing extradition to the U.S. A formal extradition request is expected to be filed by Tuesday, according to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

“Today we are announcing that we are bringing criminal charges against telecommunications giant Huawei and its associates for nearly two dozen alleged crimes,” Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a statement. “China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a press conference that Huawei “relied on dishonest business practices that contradict the economic principles that have allowed American companies and the United States to thrive.”

“The prosperity that drives our economic security is inherently linked to our national security,” Wray said. “And the immense influence that the Chinese government holds over Chinese corporations like Huawei represents a threat to both.”

Importantly, the charges come as the United States and China are racing to cut a deal on trade before March 1, when US tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods will otherwise rise to 25% from 10%. Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled to travel to the United States for two days of talks starting Wednesday. It’s not clear how Monday’s announcement will factor into negotiations. President Donald Trump previously suggested that he may intervene in the Meng case if it would help reach a trade deal with China.

 

Todd “Bubba” Horwitz