US brings new charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei

Clay Curtis
February 13, 2020

Federal prosecutors have charged Chinese tech giant Huawei and several subsidiaries with conspiracy to steal trade secrets and violate anti-racketeering laws, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on February 13.

The indictment was announced by prosecutors in Brooklyn who had previously accused the company of bank fraud.

Why it matters: The superseding indictment could ratchet up the potential penalties against Huawei, which was already facing charges for violating US sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

The US has expanded its lawsuit against Huawei, accusing the Chinese telecoms giant of a "decades-long" plan to steal technology from US firms.

Only a few days after it was revealed that the Department of Justice charged Chinese military hackers with the 2017 Equifax breach, the DOJ has handed down a massive superseding indictment against Chinese telecommunications conglomerate Huawei.

The trade secret theft charges in the superseding indictment relate to internet router source code, cellular antenna technology, and robotics.

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According to the indictment, Huawei entered into confidentiality agreements with USA tech firms and then violated those deals.

The Department of Justice said internal documents showed that the company referred to the sanctioned countries using code names, such as "A2" for Iran, and "A9" for North Korea, in what prosecutors said reflected the "inherent sensitivity" of this business. -China trade war and debate about the firm's role in next-generation wireless networks.

"To obtain the intellectual property of the Victim Companies, [Huawei] sometimes entered into confidentiality agreements with the owners of the intellectual property and then violated the terms of the confidentiality agreements by misappropriating the intellectual property for [Huawei's] own commercial use".

Meng, arrested in late 2018, is under house arrest in Canada pending a ruling on whether she will be extradited to face charges in the United States. It alleged, among other claims, that Huawei had lied about its relationship with Skycom, which prosecutors said was an "unofficial subsidiary" of Huawei that had assisted Iran in performing domestic surveillance, including against demonstrators in Tehran in 2009.

Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, welcomed news of the indictment. "It uses these tactics indiscriminately against competitors and collaborators alike".

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