Chinese telecom and key 5G tech player Huawei, which has already been branded a national security threat by the U.S. government, has been indicted in federal court 9 (the Eastern District of New York) on charges of racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets.
A little over a year ago, the company was indicted on charges of theft of trade secrets, obstruction and wire fraud, but this is a superseding indictment with new charges. Huawei has professed its innocence of the charges.
The company's two U.S. subsidiaries, and a couple of unofficial ones, were also charged, the Justice Department said.
The 16-count indictment alleges the charges stem from its "long-running practice of using fraud and deception to misappropriate sophisticated technology from U.S. counterparts."
The defendants in the case include Huawei and four of what Justice describes as its official and unofficial subsidiaries — Huawei Device Co. Ltd. (Huawei Device), Huawei Device USA Inc. (Huawei USA), Futurewei Technologies Inc. (Futurewei) and Skycom Tech Co. Ltd. (Skycom) — as well as Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wanzhou Meng (Meng).
"When confronted with evidence of wrongdoing, the defendants allegedly made repeated misstatements to U.S. officials, including FBI agents and representatives from the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, regarding their efforts to misappropriate trade secrets," Justice alleges.
The indictment includes new allegations about Huawei involvement in tech projects in Iran and North Korea, both under U.S. sanctions.
Justice said Huawei employees also falsely asserted that Skycom was not a subsidiary.
The charge in the earlier indictment was that the company tried to steal secrets from T-Mobile USA (based in Washington state) then obstructed justice after T-Mobile threatened to sue. CFO Meng Wanzhou. daughter of Huawei President Ren Zhengfei, was arrested at that time.
A Huawei spokesperson was not available for comment at press time, but when the initial indictment was handed down last year, the company denied it engaged in espionage.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) praised the new charges.
“Today's announcement by the Eastern District of New York is an important step in combatting Huawei's state-directed and criminal enterprise. The indictment paints a damning portrait of an illegitimate organization that lacks any regard for the law. Intellectual property theft, corporate sabotage, and market manipulation are part of Huawei's core ethos and reflected in every aspect of how it conducts business," they said in a joint statement. "It uses these tactics indiscriminately against competitors and collaborators alike. Huawei's unlawful business practices are a threat to fair and open markets, as well as to legitimate competition in a tech space that is critical for the global economy. We commend the men and women of the FBI who pursued this investigation, and the prosecutors in New York who brought this indictment.”