US files charges against Huawei for plotting to steal trade secrets

Justice Department hits Huawei with NEW charges for ‘plotting to steal trade secrets’ from SIX companies as its CFO Meng Wanzhou continues to fight extradition to the US from Canada

  • DoJ has brought new charges against Huawei, accusing the Chinese tech giant of a deliberate ‘campaign’ to steal trade secrets from US companies 
  • Huawei is alleged to have been successful in stealing source codes and manuals for internet routers, antenna technology and robot testing technology
  • The indictment also claims the company tried to cover up business projects with sanctioned countries including Iran and North Korea 
  • A previous indictment unsealed in January 2019 alleged Huawei stole trade secrets from US carrier T-Mobile and violated sanctions against Iran 
  • Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhoua was arrested in Canada in relation that indictment, but is pleading her innocence and is fighting extradition to the US 
  • Huawei has been blacklisted by Washington amid concerns of its ties to the Chinese government and intelligence services

The Department of Justice has announced new criminal charges against Huawei, accusing the Chinese tech giant of being engaged in a ‘decades-long’ effort to steal trade secrets from US companies.

In a statement released Thursday, the DoJ revealed that the 16-count indictment supersedes a previous indictment filed against Huawei and its CFO Meng Wanzhoua, which alleged that the company stole trade secrets from US carrier T-Mobile and violated sanctions against Iran. 

Wanzhoua was arrested in December 2018 in Canada on charges in that indictment, but she has protesting her innocence and fighting extradition to the US. Wanzhoua  is the daughter of Huawei’s founder and CEO, 75-year-old Ren Zengfei. 

The new indictment alleges Huawei and two of its US subsidiaries – Huawei USA and Futurewei –  ‘conspired to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)’ by stealing trade secrets. 

It alleges that Huawei deliberately tried to ‘misappropriate’ classified information and copyrighted works from six US technology firms. Examples included source codes and user manuals for internet routers, antenna technology and robot testing technology. 

The US companies which were targeted have not been publicly named. 

However, it comes after the DoJ last week named Equifax credit reporting agency as being at the center of a Beijing hack.  

The new indictment also includes ‘new allegations about Huawei and its subsidiaries’ involvement in business and technology projects in countries subject to sanctions, such as Iran and North Korea’. 

The DoJ asserts that the Chinese company even tired to cover up the fact they were doing business with such countries, by using code names. ‘A2’ reportedly referred to Iran, and ‘A9’ is alleged to have referred to North Korea. 

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhoua was arrested in December 2018 in Canada on charges in the initial Department of Justice indictment against the Chinese tech company. She is protesting her innocence and fighting extradition to the US.  She is pictured wearing a court-ordered ankle monitor last month

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei is seen with Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015. US officials accuse the company of building a secret back door into its mobile network hardware

In Tuesday’s statement, the DoJ alleges that Huawei’s ‘campaign’ to steal trade secrets from US competitors formed part of their global growth strategy. 

The DoJ statement alleges that Huawei even launched a policy ‘instituting a bonus program to reward employees who misappropriated intellectual property from competitors.’

Prosecutors allege some Huawei employees entered into confidential agreements with the six US companies, before violating such agreements by then handing over the information to the Chinese tech giant. 

Thus, the DoJ statements alleges that ‘Huawei’s efforts to steal trade secrets and other sophisticated US technology were successful.’

Trump administration officials, increasingly intent on preventing China from global technological domination, have urged allies not to use Huawei hardware

‘As a consequence of its campaign to steal this technology and intellectual property, Huawei was able to drastically cut its research and development costs and associated delays, giving the company a significant and unfair competitive advantage,’ the statement goes on to say.  

The case was unsealed as the Trump administration is raising national security and surveillance concerns about Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer.  

Huawei, one of the largest tech firms and a major telecom equipment maker, has been blacklisted by Washington amid concerns of its ties to the Chinese government and intelligence services.  

New charges have been filed in the US against Huawei (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Earlier this week, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien alleged that Huawei builds secret back doors into its hardware that allow it to covertly access mobile-phone networks around the world.

‘We have evidence that Huawei has the capability secretly to access sensitive and personal information in systems it maintains and sells around the world,’ O’Brien told the Wall Street Journal. 

US officials say that Huawei’s back door allows the company to access network data without the carrier’s knowledge, potentially giving the Chinese government a potent spy tool.

Huawei denied the allegations, telling the Journal that it ‘has never and will never do anything that would compromise or endanger the security of networks and data of its clients.’ 

The U.S. has long tried to convince its allies, such as the U.K. and Germany, to ban the use of Huawei telecom equipment in the building of 5G networks.

 Germany’s legislature is set to vote in the coming weeks on a bill that would allow Huawei full access to its 5G market if the company provides security guarantees.

WHO IS MENG WANZHOU?

Meng Wanzhou, 46, is widely assumed to be the heiress of her billionaire father Ren Zhengfei who founded Huawei in 1987

Meng Wanzhou, also known as Sabrina Meng and Cathy Meng, is the daughter and eldest child of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, 74, by his first wife Meng Jun.

Billed as a ‘Red Princess’, the 47-year-old is widely assumed to be the heiress of her former Communist soldier father, who founded the world’s current second largest smartphone seller at the age of 43 with just 21,000 yuan (£2,388).

Ms Meng, who is also the Vice-Chairman of Huawei, was ranked No. 12 by Frobes on the list of China’s most outstanding businesswomen in 2018.

She graduated from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in central China’s Wuhan city. 

She worked in a bank for a year upon graduation before taking up a position at Huawei’s front desk in 1993 to answer phone calls. 

Over the years, Ms Meng worked as the director of the international accounting department, CFO of Huawei’s Hong Kong branch office, president of the accounts management department and brought Huawei to its current success. 

Ms Meng has a brother and a 20-year-old half-sister Annabel Yao who is a ballerina and debutante. 

Annabel is said to be extremely international and have lived in Britain, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

She was one of the 19 young women to be presented at the 25th annual Bal des Débutantes held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris in 2018.

 

Source: Read Full Article