The United States Justice Department has charged Huawei with a series of federal crimes, the latest turn in an American crackdown on the embattled tech company.
In one of two indictments unsealed today, Justice Department prosecutors accuse Huawei employees, including chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, of fraud. According to prosecutors, Huawei misrepresented its relationship with an Iranian affiliate, allowing it to continue its work with banks and officials despite American sanctions.
The Department has also accused Huawei of violating the law by stealing intellectual property from T-Mobile. According to prosecutors, Huawei violated confidentiality agreements with T-Mobile by stealing information on — and even a physical piece of — a robot used to test smartphones.
Huawei, the largest telecommunications equipment company in the world and a major purveyor of smartphones globally, is a success story in China, but has faced intense scrutiny in the US. Officials have repeatedly raised concerns that Huawei technology could be used by the Chinese government for espionage, a claim the company has denied.
The charges will further escalate tension over Chinese tech companies operating in the US. Lawmakers have already banned government use of Huawei and ZTE technology, and Huawei’s CFO is currently being held in Canada, facing extradition to the US. In all, the Justice Department unsealed nearly two dozen charges against Huawei and affiliates today, accusing them of crimes including bank fraud and obstruction of justice.
At a press conference, FBI Director Christopher Wray characterized the company’s actions as “brazen and persistent.” Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.