Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturing giant Huawei Technologies Co., LTD has been charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and theft of trade secrets, among other crimes, in indictments unsealed today by United States Attorneys Offices in the Eastern District of New York and the Western District of Washington.
“The charges unsealed today are the result of years of investigative work conducted by the FBI and our law enforcement partners,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said [January 28, 2019] at a Department of Justice press conference announcing the indictments. “Both sets of charges expose Huawei’s brazen and persistent actions to exploit American companies and financial institutions and to threaten the free and fair global marketplace.”
The Eastern District of New York charged Huawei, two of its affiliates, and Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzou with 13 counts surrounding the company’s misrepresentations to the U.S. government and four financial institutions regarding its business in Iran. The indictment charges that the company used financial institutions operating in the United States to process transactions involving millions of dollars in furtherance of Huawei’s Iran-based business. These transactions and the company’s false statements about them violated U.S. laws, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
The additional 10 charges out of Washington state alleged that employees at Huawei Device Co. and Huawei Device USA, Inc. worked to steal the details of an innovative and proprietary tool built by T-Mobile to test the performance of new mobile phones prior to launch. According to the indictment, Huawei employees who were granted limited access to T-Mobile’s Tappy Robot System stole information about the technology in violation of nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements, and then sought to cover up their actions.
Wray said the company’s intentional and systematic efforts to steal valuable intellectual property were designed to “circumvent hard-earned, time-consuming research and gain an unfair market advantage.”
Wray expressed his gratitude to the FBI personnel who were instrumental in building the case and to partners at the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security. He also recognized efforts by Canadian law enforcement officials.
“These cases make clear,” Wray stressed, “that, as a country, we must consider carefully the risk that companies like Huawei pose if we allow them into our telecommunications infrastructure. The FBI does not—and will not—tolerate businesses that violate our laws, obstruct our justice, and jeopardize our national security.”