The US Justice Department has announced new criminal charges against popular Chinese mobile and telecoms company Huawei.
Huawei, which recently surpassed Apple to become the second largest smartphone maker in the world, is accused of bank and wire fraud, obstruction of justice and theft of technology from US company T-Mobile.
The indictment accuses Huawei of misleading the US and a global bank about the nature of its relationship with Huawei Device USA and Skycom Tech in order to manage business with Iran.
This is problematic given President Trump’s administration has not only reinstated all sanctions on Iran, but also introduced even stricter measures that have affected major banks and oil and shipping companies.
Another case alleges Huawei stole technology from T-Mobile, known as Tappy, which mimicks human fingers to test the durability of smart phones.
Several other countries have reportedly also expressed security concerns regarding Huawei. US security experts are concerned about the Chinese government’s involvement in the company, and that their equipment could be used as spyware. Huawei insists there is no government control.
Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested last month in Vancouver, Canada, under the direction of the US. She was granted bail, but is under 24-hour surveillance and wears an electronic ankle tag.
Meng and Huawei are denying all allegations.
The arrest of Meng has reportedly infuriated China, and is thought by some to be the reason for the recent detaining of two Canadians in China – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – just days after Meng’s arrest.
Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was also recently condemned to death for drug smuggling. He had originally received a 15-year prison sentence in November, but his case was suddenly reviewed just a few weeks ago.
This move by the US is sure to further strain an already testy relationship with China, despite US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross claiming the Huawei charges are “wholly separate” from the continuing US-China trade negotiations.
In the announcement made by the US Department of Justice, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “To the detriment of American ingenuity, Huawei continually disregarded the laws of the United States in the hopes of gaining an unfair economic advantage.”
“As the volume of these charges prove, the FBI will not tolerate corrupt businesses that violate the laws that allow American companies and the United States to thrive.”
Meng remains in Canada as she awaits a decision from a Canadian court regarding the US extradition request.