Justice Department slaps Huawei with new racketeering charges

Justice Department slaps Huawei with new racketeering charges

The Justice Department has added new criminal charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei and two of its USA subsidiaries, accusing the company in a plot to steal trade secrets, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

Huawei allegedly pushed its employees to bring in confidential information from competitors, even offering bonuses for the "most valuable stolen information", according to the indictment. The three new allegations supplement more than a dozen other charges already lodged against the company in a case originally unsealed last January.

"This new indictment is part of the Justice Department's attempt to irrevocably damage Huawei's reputation and its business for reasons related to competition rather than law enforcement", said a spokesperson.

The development is the latest salvo fired by the Trump administration in its year-long fight against the networking equipment maker, which it deems a threat to national security. The DoJ also accused Meng Wanzhou, the company's chief financial officer and daughter of the founder Ren Zhengfei, of making false statements about the company's business dealings in Iran.

The allegations mention that Huawei also lied about its commercial relationships in sanctioned countries such as Iran and North Korea, as well about its relationship with Skycom, the company's unofficial subsidiary. The company was put on a U.S. blacklist back in May, preventing it from doing business with other United States companies without government approval.

Another case, involving California-based "company six", alleges a complex scheme by Huawei to obtain a proprietary product that it could then reverse engineer.

Prosecutors said Huawei had violated the terms of partnerships with United States companies and stolen trade secrets such as source code and robot technology.

Justice Department slaps Huawei with new racketeering charges

Huawei did not respond to a request for comment by deadline. The Chinese company was also charged with lying to federal investigators and obstructing the investigation into the company's activity.

"The indictment paints a damning portrait of an illegitimate organization that lacks any regard for the law", Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the panel's Democratic vice-chairman, said in an emailed statement. During a 2003 lawsuit, Huawei allegedly claimed that it had removed the source code from the routers and recalled them, but also erased the memories of the recalled devices and sent them to China so they could not be used as evidence.

A federal grand jury returned the superseding indictment yesterday at a federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

It also personally named Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei and who is now undergoing extradition hearings in Vancouver, Canada.

New stealing charges have been laid against Huawei who is still being supported in Australia by carriers such as Optus and TPG, who are openly installing the Chinese Companies routers into homes and businesses.

And Washington has continued to pressure other countries to drop Huawei from their cellular networks over its claim the equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.

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