United States accuses Huawei of stealing trade secrets, defrauding banks

Banning Huawei could damage 5G development

The deadline for an extradition request is January 30, 60 days after her arrest.

The U.S. Department of Justice is formally levelling criminal charges against Chinese tech juggernaut Huawei Technologies, two subsidiaries and Meng Wanzhou, the influential chief financial officer who has been free on bail in Vancouver since she was arrested by Canadian authorities almost two months ago.

China's largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer got hit with criminal charges on Monday in connection to a "long-running" global financial scheme involving the Iranians, bank fraud, corporate espionage - and a robot named "Tappy", according to DOJ officials.

In a separate case, the Justice Department also accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets, wire fraud and obstructing justice for allegedly stealing robotic technology from carrier T-Mobile US Inc to test smartphones' durability.

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Additionally, and seemingly unconnected with regard to the sanctions violation, the Justice Department also accused Huawei of stealing intellectual property from T-Mobile.

Rather than being the work of one or two rogue actors, Whitaker said the alleged conduct bore the hallmarks of "corporate-sponsored behaviour" that was directed as company policy.

It arose from a multiyear investigation into potential violations by Chinese companies of USA sanctions on Iran.

Wanzhou Meng remains in Canada after being released by police, but it seems likely she will be extradited to the US.

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Washington has said it wants to try Meng on the allegations because, in her position as chief financial officer, she spoke directly to US banks that loaned money.

Prosecutors said Huawei, and Meng in particular, lied to banking authorities to avoid questions about whether the firm evaded US sanctions prohibiting firms from doing business with Iran. This decision came at the urging of Chinese President Xi and around the same time China helped facilitate a meeting between the US President and North Korea's leader.

"To the detriment of American ingenuity, Huawei continually disregarded the laws of the United States in the hopes of gaining an unfair economic advantage".

The Justice Department also charged that when Huawei became aware of the USA investigation in 2017, the company's American affiliate tried to obstruct that work by trying to move witnesses with knowledge about Huawei's Iran-based business back to China, where FBI agents could not interview them.

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The 23 charges filed on Monday threatened to escalate tensions between Washington and Beijing just 48 hours before senior Chinese officials were due to fly to the White House for a new round of trade talks.

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